Skip to main content

Full text of "The Miscellaneous Works..."

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 

'^oT A 













The volume of " Arnold's Miscellaneous Works," published 
in London in June, 1845, having been accuf'ately examined, it 
was discovered that the London copy was both defective and 
redundant. The concise Preface itself, by Mr. Stanley, indeed 
produced a conviction that the volume might be essentially 
improved. That notice was almost in these words : — 

" This volume consists of a republication of such Miscellane- 
ous writings of Dr. Arnold as appeared to possess any perma- 
nent interest, or to illustrate his general views, especially on the 
subjects of education and of the social and poUtical state of the 

" It has, therefore, seemed best to exclude from it the articles 
written in the British Critic, 1819-20 ; that on Niebuhr's History 
of Rome in the Quarterly Review of 1825 ; and on " Letters of 
an Episcopalian," in the Edinburgh Review of 1826; such 
publications of his later years as had a local or temporary 
character, as well as the article on " Dr. Hampden" in the Edin- 
burgh Review of 1836 ; and such of the Essays appended to his 
edition of Thucydides, 1830-35, as were confined to questions 
of purely topographical or historical detail. The Essays on 
Church and State, which were to have appeared in this volume, 
have now been published, as Appendixes to the Second Edition 
of the Fragment on the Church. 

" The contents of this volume express Dr. Arnold's deliberate 
views on the subjects of which he wrote. At the same time it 
will be obvious that his language would often have been modi- 
fied by a change of circumstances, and that expressions are oc- 
casionally used, which he would subsequently have cancelled." 


Exclusive of the Articles in the British Critic which are not 
specifically designated, there due five important disquisitions up- 
on very interesting topics, which are thus distinctly announced 
as omitted by the Eoglish editor. It was, therefore, decided, 
that those critical Essays should be embodied in the Ameri- 
can reprint. There is also a peculiar mention of the " Frag- 
ment on the Church," and the " Essays on Church and 
State ;'' the latter of which had been promised as a part of the 
volume of Arnold's " Miscellaneous Works ;" but which were 
withheld, doubtless, for the sole purpose of publishing those two 
articles in a separate volume. In addition to those discussions, 
there is a very frequent reference both in the " Life and Corres- 
pondence," and in the " Miscellaneous Works of Dr. Arnold," 
to the Introductory Essay to the volume of Sermons by Arnold, 
entitled " Christian Life, its Coubse, its Hindrances, and 
ITS Helps ;" and the reader is often at a loss clearly and pre- 
cisely to apprehend either the subject, or the proposed illustra- 
tion of it, for want of that article. That preliminary discourse 
on the greatly agitating modern controversy, with its supple- 
mentary Annotations, is also incorporated in this volume. 

Notwithstanding the large type, open spaces, and wide mar- 
gin, it was ascertained, however, that the English copy still 
would be too thin for the purposes of trade ; therefore a 
variety of articles and letters from old newspapers, written 
many years previous, altogether ephemeral, and of a merely 
" temporary character," and of an exclusively local application, 
were added, including nearly one fourth of the London volume. 
Those are of the identical quality of the superior class of news- 
paper essays on the social condition of the agricultural and ma- 
nufacturing classes in Britain, with the analogous subjects; 
many of which will scarcely be noticed in any future history of 
that period. 

Those pages, with few exceptions, it was determined to ex- 
clude ; and in their stead to substitute, not only the critical dis- 
quisitions expressly mentioned in the Preface to the English edi- 

PlTBLiniB's yBl#AOB* V 

tion, but also to embody the three prominent articles on those 
themes, to the defence and illustration of which Dr. Arnold con- 
secrated his untiring and energetic labours ; and, in which ser- 
vice he acquired his justly merited distinction, and accomplished 
so much wide spread anil lasting good« 

It is therefore proper that the purchasers of this volume should 
be apprised of the additions, changes, omissions, and improve- 
ments in this republication. 

Additjons. — ^These articles will be found in the table of Con- 
tents with these titles : " Christian Politics ; Essays on Church 
and State; The Church; The Church of England; Early Roman 
History ; Faith and Reason ; The Oxford Malignants and Dr. 
Hampden ; The Sixth Chapter of the Gospel by John ; Tvmcts 
for the Times ; and Tradition.^' Those nine treatises, it will be 
perceived, extend to 256 pages, or one half of the present volume, 
including more than 400 pages of the AngUcan works whence 
they are derived ; and containing one entire octavo volume, 
which alone is sold at a much higher price than this edition. 

Changes, — These have been entirely in the order of the ar- 
ticles, which in the English copy are promiscuously jumbled to- 
gether, without any reference either to the subject, or the length 
of the discussion. 

Omissions. — The articles omitted are altogether restricted to 
the newspaper discussions, which were so limited both in the 
trivial nature of the subject, and its short-lived duration, that 
very few readers in this country would understand the contro- 
versial themes, and scarcely an individual would devote the 
time to peruse those trifling and forgotten articles, although 
marked with the name of Thomas Arnold. 

Improvements. — It was originally designed to arrange the 
whole volume in two consecutive series; the first to contain 
those which appertain to ecclesiastical concerns ; and the second, 
the discussions on secular and literary themes. But as the 
" Essays on Church and State" were not in this country, the 


vi publis^sr's fretace. 

copy of them jfrom London arrived too late to follow the article 
<* Tracts for the Times." It is therefore inserted at the end of 
the volume. 

Four of the articles—" The Bible;" " Education of the Mid- 
dle Classes;" " Social Condition of the Operative Classes ;^^ 
and " National Church Establishments ;" were originally issued 
in short successive nimibers in the Englishman's Register, the 
Hertford Reformer, and the Sheffield Courant. They have now 
been combined in the form of continuous discussions, with the 
exclusion only of the usual expletives at the beginning and 
end of occasional disjointed compositions. 

This volmne, therefore, if we disregard the ephemeral papers 
in the Enghsh edition, includes nearly twice the matter of the 
London collection, for the three longest, and the seven most im- 
portant and valuable dissertations which Arnold ever pubUshed, 
are now first introduced. Those treatises cannot be procured in 
any other form, without the purchase of six diflferent costly oc- 
tavo volumes. From these considerations, it is anticipated that 
this work will be very satisfactory to all those who have read 
Arnold's " Life and Correspondence ;" and " Lectures on Mo- 
dem History ;" who will be gratified to peruse his deliberate 
judgment in a didactic form, on the numerous complex and in- 
teresting topics to which in his Letters* there is constant refer- 
ence, and which demand additional development. To all those 
readers especially, this volume of the " Miscellsmeous Works of 
Thomas Arnold" is confidently recommended. 

New-York^ September 6, 1845. 


Since the first publication of Arnold's Miscellaneous Works, h 
very important Essay, on the " Right Interpretation and Understand- 
ing of the Scriptures," has been discovered at the end of the second 
volume of his Sermons. This Essay, which Dr. Arnold valued as 
one of his most edifying illustrations of a cardinal topic, peculiarly 
adapted to the present period, is extracted from the second volume of 
his Sermons ; to which it was subjoined by the author, expressly to 
expedite and enlarge its circulation. That American readers might 
possess in one volume all of the author's disquisitions worthy of pre- 
servation, exclusive of his regular Pulpit Discourses, it is now in- 
corporated with his other writings. 

New-York^ November 19, 1845. 


Bible, the 146 

Goncsis, 146. 

The Sin not to be forgiven, 157. 
Christian Duty of conceding the Roman Catholic Claims, . . .160 

Canons of the Church of England, 188. 
Christian Politics— Essays on Church and State, 435 

Ends of the Church, 445. 

Letter to Chevaher Bunsen, 491. 

Plan of a work on Christian Pohtics, 435, 442. 

The State and the Church, 467. 
Church, tlio 9 

Character of the Church, 9. 

Errors concerning the Priesthood, 68. 

No Priesthood in the Church, 20. 

Primitive Writers, 32. 

Barnabas, 38. 

Clemens Romanus, 40. 

Hermes, 44. 

Ignatius, 45. 

Polycarp, 45. 

Church of England, the ... . 213 

Condition of the Operative Classes, 404 v 

Discipline of Public Schools, 355 

Early Roman History, 378 

Education of the Middle Classes, 372 

Interpretation and Right Understanding of the Scriptures 520 

Knowledge, Divisions and Relations of, ....... 290 

National Church Establishments, 497 

The State and ITie Church, 499. 

Wliat can and ought to be done by the Church ? 512. 

Oxford Malignants and Dr. Hampden, 131 

Poetry of Common Life, 367 

Preface to Thucydidcs, Volume IIL, 828 

Principles of Church Reform, 73 

Rugby School— Use of the Classics, 340 

Social Progress of States, 306 

Tracts for the Times, 236 

Faith and Reason, 265. 

Sixth Chapter of the Gospel by John, 270. 

Tradition, 272. 



The language of prophecy leads us to hope for more than the salva- 
tion of a certain number of individuals through the gospel. It speaks 
of a general restoration, so complete as to repair altogether the mis- 
chief which had been introduced into the world by sin. And the lan- 
guage of St. Paul, when declaring the great mystery of his preaching,, 
namely, the admission of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, seems 
also to go beyond the redemption of a few individuals, comparatively 
speaking, out of the multitude of all nations. Christ was to present 
unto himself a Church holy and without blemish ; and the distinction 
made by some between the \nsihli> ar^^l jpviai|ilQ riiiirrh. seems only a 
later refinement of interpretation, suggested by the fact that the Church 
in the obvious sense of the term, was not pure and spotless. Now 
ought we to lower the language of prophecy, in order to make it agree 
with the existing state of things ? or to be anxious to amend the exist- 
ing state of things, for the very reason that it does not correspond with 
the promises of Scripture ? 

The spread of Christianity, speaking of the geographical extent of 
its mere nominal dominion, has been partial ; — its real moral effects 
have been still more partial. The largest part of the world does not 
acknowledge Christ so much as in name ; and where he is acknow- 
ledged in name, he is yet denied in many instances in works. The 
perfect work of the Gospel has been seen only in individuals : Christ 
has laid his hands on a few sick folk and healed them ; but he has 
done no mighty work of spiritual healing on a whole church. It is still 
most true, that we see not yet all things put under him. 

Now are we prepared to say that, whereas the world was lost by 
one man's sin, it was only to be in a small part recovered by one man's 
righteousness ? — that, whereas through Adam all died, only a very 
small number were through Christ to be made alive? This is directly 
contrary to the language of Scripture, which represents the redemption 
as designed to be a full reparation of the evil occasioned by the fall. 

Or are we prepared to s^y that God*s purposes have been defeated 
by the greater power of God's enemy ? — that sin has been stronger 



than grace, Satan mightier than Christ ? — ^that the Church with its 
divine Head and its indwelling Spirit has been unable to overcome 
the powers of evil ? — ^that the medicine was too weak to overcome the 
disease ? 

If neither of those alternatives be true ; if the Scripture will not 
allow us to doubt of God's gracious will towards us all ; and if to doubt 
his power be blasphemy, — what remains, but that we have weakened 
and corrupted that medicine, which was in itself sufficient to. heal us ? 
— ^that we have not tried, and are not trying Christianity, such as Christ 
willed it to be ? — that the Church, against which the powers of hell 
have so long maintained an advantageous conflict, cannot be 'that 
same Church against which Christ declared that they should nol* pre- 
vail? * • 

Now here it is necessary, in order to prevent- ipuch cortfusion and 
very much uncharitableness, to distinguish, cjirefully between what I 
may be allowed to call Christian religion and the Christian Church. ^ 
See Serm. xxxix. in vol iv. ; Lect. on Modern Hist, vi, * » 

By Christian religion, I mean that knowledge of God and of Christ, 
and that communion of the Holy Spirit, by which an individual is led 
through life, in all holiness, and dies with the confident hope of rising 
again through Christ at the last day. This knowledge being derived, 
or derivable at any rate, from the Scriptures alone,, and this commu- 
nion being the answer to our earnest prayers, it is perfectly pQ^sibld 
that Christian religion may work its full work on an individual living 
alone, or living amongst unbelieving or ungodly men,^ — that here, 
where- the business rests only with God* and the individual soulj God's 
glory may be exalted and the man's salvation effected, whatever may 
be the state of the Church at large. 

But, by the Christian Church, I mean that provision for the commu- 
nicating, maintaining, and enforcing of this knowledge by which it 
was to be made influential, not on indivi4,ualsj but on massers of men. 
This provision consisted'in the formation of a society, which by its 
constitution should be capable of acting both within itself and ^jrithout ; 
having, so to speak, a twofold movement, the one for its out rard ad. 
vance, the other for its inward life and purification ; so that Christi- 
anity should be at once spread widely, and preserved the while in its 
proper truth and vigour, till Christian kfiowledge should be not only 
communicated to the whole world, but be embraced also in its original 
purity, and bring forth its practical fruit. Thus Christian religion and 
the Christian Church being two distinct things, the one acting upon 
individuals, the other upon masses ; it is very possible for the former to 
•continue to do its work, although the latter be perverted or disabled. 


But then the consequence will be such as we see before us, that Chris- 
tianitj, being designed to reroedj the intensity of the evil of the fall 
by its religion, and the universality of the evil by its Church, has suc- 
ceeded in the first, because its religion has been retained as God gave 
it, but has failed in the second, because its Church has been greatly 

Christianity, then, contains on the one hand a divine philosophy, 
which we may call its religion, and a divine polity which is its Church. 

.But it is precisely from an acknowledgment of this last truth, ac- 
companied with a misunderstanding of* its real nature, that the great- 
est part of ^he actual mischief has arisen. When we say, therefore, 
that Chrii^l^^ity contains a. divine polity, namely its Church, it is of 
.^ the utmost importance tfet we Have a clear notion of the Christian 
Church, according to what we may gather from the Scripture to have 
beeif the mind of its divine Founder. 

Now,«that religion should be a social as well as an individual con- 
cern, is nothing peculiar to Christianity^ if by religion we mean the 
outward and visible worship of God. The act of sacrifice, almost of 
necessity, involves the cooperation of more than a single person ; fes- 
tivals and solenm processions, even hymns of thanksgiving and praise, 
can Aarcely be performed by one alone. Religion, then, in that 
sense in which the ancient world generally understood it, that is, pub- 
lic and visible worship, has always been, and must always be, the 
business of several persons together ; — the religion of a single indi- 
vidual must, in this sense, be something imperfect, and only in a very 
small degree possible. 

But the peculiarity of Christianity consists in this, that while it 
takes religion in another sense, and means by it not the visible wor- 
ship of God, but the service of the heart towards him ; and whilst it 
would thus appear that religion could exist perfectly in one single indi- 
vidual, and required no cooperation of more persons, yet still it is made 
the business of a number or multitude, and our spiritual relations to 
God are represented as matters of a joint interest, no less than 
that visible worship which, in its very nature, must be more than in- 

Now it is seen and generally acknowledged, that men's physical 
welfare has been greatly promoted by the cooperation of a number of 
persons endowed with unlike powers and resources. One man having 
what another wants, and wanting what another has, there is an obvious 
wisdom in so combining their efforts, as that the strength of one 
should'supply the weakness of another, and so the weakness should in 
no case be perceptible. 


This cooperative principle, founded on the great dissimilarity which 
prevails amongst men, was by Christianity to be applied to moral pur- 
poses, as it had long been to physical ; (See Introduction to Sermons 
on Christian Life, its Course, its Hindrances, and its Helps, p. 48 ;) 
each man was to regard his intellectual and moral gills as a means 
of advancing the intellectual and moral good of society ; what he 
himself wanted was to be supplied out of the abundance of his 
neighbour ; — and thus the moral no less than the physical weaknesses 
of each individual, were to be strengthened and remedied, till they 
should vanish as to their enfeebling effects both with respect to himself 
and to the community. 

Nothing could be more general than such a system of co-operation. 
It extended to every part of life ; not only going far beyond that co- 
operation for ritual purposes, which was the social part of the old re- 
ligions, but, so far as men's physical well-being had been the sole ob- 
ject of existing civil societes, it went far beyond them also. For 
though it is possible, and unhappily too easy, to exclude moral con- 
siderations from our notions of physical good, and from our notions 
of ritual religion, yet it is not easy, in looking to the moral good of 
man, to exclude considerations of his physical well-being. Every out- 
ward thing having a tendency to affect his moral character, either for 
the better or for the worse, and this especially holding good with re- 
spect to riches or poverty, economical questions, in all their wide ex- 
tent, fall directly under the cognizance of those whose object is to pro- 
mote man's moral welfare. 

But while thus general, the object of Christian cooperation was not 
to be vague. When men combined to ofier sacrifice, or to keep fes- 
tival, there was a definite object of their union ; but the promotion of 
man's moral welfare might seem indistinct and lost in distance. Some- 
thing nearer and more personal was therefore to be mixed up with that 
which was indistinct from its very vastness. The direct object ol 
Christian cooperation was to bring. Christ into every part of common 
life ; in scriptural language, to make human society one living body, 
closely joined in communion with Christ, its head. And for this pur- 
pose, one of the yery simplest acts of natural necessity was connected 
with the very deepest things of religion : — the meal of an assembly of 
Christians was made the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. 
And the early church well entered into the spirit of this ordinance, 
when it began every day by a partaking of the holy communion. For 
-when Christ was thus brought into one of the commonest acts of nature 
and of common society, it was a lively lesson, that in every other act 
through the day, he should be made present also : if Christians at 


their very social meal could enter into the highest spiritual communion^ 
it taught them that in all matters of life, even when separated from one 
another bodily, that same communion should be preserved inviolate ; 
that in all things they were working for and with one another, with 
and to Christ and God. 

Such appears, even from the meagre account of a stranger, to have 
been the manner of living of the Christians of Bithynia, about a hun- 
dred years after the birth of our Lord, and about seventy therefore from 
the first preaching of Christianity. They met before day, and sang to- 
gether a hymn to Christ : then they bound themselves to one another 
by oath, — according to Pliny's expression, " sacramento," but in reality, 
we may be sure, by their joint partaking of the communion of Christ's 
body and blood, that they would neither steal, nor rob, nor commit 
adultery, nor break faith, nor refuse to restore what had been entrusted 
to them. Then they went to their day's work, and met again to partake 
their meal together ; which they probably hallowed, either by making 
it a direct communion, or by some prayers, or h}'mns, which reminded 
them of their Christian fellowship. 

Now in this account, short as it is, we see two great principles of the 
Christian Church : first, cooperation for general moral improvement, for 
doing the duties of life better ; and secondly, the bringing Christ as it 
were into their communion, by beginning the day with him, and deriv- 
ing their principle of virtuous living directly from his sacrament. The 
church of Bithynia existed on a small scale, in a remote province ; but 
here are precisely those leading principles of the Christian Church 
exemplified, which were fitted for all circumstances and all places, and 
which contain in them that essential virtue which the Church was to 
embody and to difiTuse. 

It is obvious, also, that the object of Christian society being thus ex- 
tensive, and relating not to ritual observances, l)ut to the improvement 
of the whole of our life, the natural and fit state of the Church is, that it 
should be a sovereign society or commonwealth ; as long as it is subor- 
dinate and municipal, it cannot fully carry its purposes into eflTect. 
This will be evident, if we consider that law and government are the 
sovereign influences on human society ; that they in the last resort 
shape and control it at their pleasure ; that institutions depend on them, 
and are by them formed and modified ; that what they sanction will ever 
be generally considered innocent ; that what they condemn is thereby 
made a crime, and if persisted in becomes rebellion ; and that those 
who hold in their hands the power of life and death must be able greatly 
to obstruct the progress of whatever they disapprove of, and those who 
dispose of all the honours and rewards of society must, in the same 


way, be greatly able to advance whatever they think excellent. So 
long, then, as the sovereign society is not Christian, and the Church is 
not sovereign, we have two powers alike designed to act upon the 
whole of our being, but acting often in opposition to one another. Of 
these powers, the one has wisdom, the other external force and in- 
fluence ; and from the division of these things, which ought ever to go 
together, the wisdom of the Church cannot carry into effect the truths 
which it sees and loves ; whilst the power of government, not being 
guided by wisdom, influences society for evil rather than for good. 
See Lecture on Modern History, Inaug. Lect. and Appendix. 

The natural and true state of things then is, that this power and this 
wisdom should be united ; that human life should not be pulled to pieces 
between two claimants, each pretending to exercise control over it, not 
in some particular portion, but universally ; that wisdom should be 
armed with power, power guided by wisdom ; that the Christian 
Church should have no external force to thwart its beneficent purposes ; 
that government should not be poisoned by its internal ignorance or 
wickedness, and thus advance the cause of God's enemy, rather than 
perform the part of God's vicegerent. 

This is the perfect notion of a Christian Church, that it should be a 
sovereign society, operating therefore with full power for raising its con- 
dition, first morally, and then physically : operating through the fullest 
development of the varied faculties and qualities of its several mem- 
bers, and keeping up continually, as the bond of its union, the fellow- 
ship of all its people with one another through Christ, and their com- 
munion with him as their common head. 

With this notion of a perfect Church* two things are utterly incon- 
sistent : — first, the destroying of the principle of cooperation through 
the varied talents and habits of the several members of the society, and 
substituting in the place of it a system in which a very few should be 
active and the great mass passive ; [Introd. to Sermons on Christian 
Life, its Course, its Hindrances, and its Helps, pp. 48, 49,] a system in 
which vital heat was to be maintained, not by the even circulation of 
the blood through every limb, through the healthy cooperation of the 
arteries and veins of every part, but by external rubbing and chafing, 
when the limbs from a suspension of their inward activity, had become 
cold and paralyzed. 

Secondly, the taking of any part or parts of human life out of its con- 
trol, by a p retended d jaiinctio nbetween s p iritual tV^f nga f^nH sfirjilajy- a 
distinction utterly without foundation, for in one sense all things are 
secular, for they are done in time and on earth ; in another, all things 
are spiritual, for they affect us morally either for the better or the 


worse, and so tend to make our spirits fitter for the society of God or 
of his enemies. The division rests entirely on principles of heathen- 
ism, and tends to make Christianity, like the religions of the old worid, 
not a sovereign discipline for every part and act of life, but a system 
for communicating certain abstract truths, and for the performance of 
certain visible rites and ceremonies. 

These two notions, both utterly inconsistent with the idea of a true 
Christian Church, have been prevalent, alternately or conjointly almost 
from the very beginning of Christianity. To the first we owe Popery 
in all its shapes, Romanist or Protestant ; the second is the more open 
form of Antichrist, which, by its utter dissoluteness, has gone far to 
reduce countries nominally Christian to a state of lawlessness and want 
of principle worse than the worst heathenism. 

But these two Antichrists have ever prepared the way £ot each other ; 
and the falsehood of the one has led directly to the falsehood of its ap* 
parent opposite, but real ally and cooperator. 

I begin, then, with the first of these two evils : the substitution of the 
activity of some in place of the activity of all ; the distinction of the 
grand characteristic of the Christian Church, the cooperation, namely, 
of society through the several faculties and qualities of its members, for 
the attainment of the highest moral good of all. 

This life, as it may well be called, of the Church, maybe injured by 
an extreme predominance of the activity of some members, by which 
the others are necessarily rendered less active. A mere exaggeration 
of the principles of government may effect this, and it may arise out of 
the most benevolent feelings. Kind and earnest teachers commit this 
very mistake when they assist their pupil too much ; they feel that they 
can do the work better than he can, and that their assistance will enable 
him to accomplish his task in a shorter time, and more effectually. But 
they really injure him ; because the greater completeness and clear- 
ness of any one particular piece of knowledge is a far less benefit than 
the strengthening of his own faculties by exercise : the knowledge 
thus given is not power, but is gained at the cost of power, and is a 
hindrance rather than a help to the wholesome acquisition of know, 
ledge hereafter. Even so benevolent governments, seeing the igno. 
ranee and mistaken notions of their people, are eager to fence them in- 
on every side by their own care, and act for them, because they were 
likely of themselves to act wrong. But unhappily with the tares they 
thus pluck up the good seed also ; the people get accustomed to let the 
government act for them ; they thus may acquire the innocence of in- 
fancy or death, but they acquire also the incapacity of those states for 
good ; and the result is not a living spirit but a lifeless corpse. 


Still, it must not be forgotten that with government the error is only 
in the excess or in the unseasonableness of its activity. In itself it is 
beneficent and necessary. Its abuses are no argument against its exist- 
ence ; it is founded on truth, and is indispensable in every state of so- 
ciety. But the life of the Church was impaired far more fatally by the 
introduction of another principle very distinct from that of government, 
the principle of priesthood. Persons unaccustomed to examine the sub- 
ject thoroughly have often very confused ideas about priesthood ; they 
profess utterly to disclaim it, while in fact they are zealously maintain- 
ing it. But the essential point in the notion of a priest is this, that he 
is a person made necessary to our intercourse with God, without being 
necessary or beneficial to us morally. His interference makes the 
worshipper neither a wiser man nor holier than he would have been 
without it ; and yet it is held to be indispensable. This unreasonable, 
unmoral, unspiritual necessity is the essence of the idea of priesthood. 

Priesthood, then, is properly mediation, taking this last word in its 
etymological rather than in its common meaning. When the act on the 
worshipper's part is already complete, whether the worship be ritual or 
spiritual, the presence or interference of a priest is made a necessary 
medium through which alone the act can be presented to God. For 
instance, suppose that the worshipper has a right belief concerning 
God, and knows what he desires to ask of God, the act of prayer on 
his part is complete ; but if it be said that his prayer must be offered to 
God by another, and that otherwise God will not accept it, then here is 
the exact notion of priesthood. It ceases to be priesthood, and be- 
comes teaching or assistance, if the act on the worshipper's part can- 
not be morally or reasonably complete without the aid of another. 
He who knows not what to pray for, cannot by himself complete the 
act of prayer, but requires to be taught in order to do it. This teach- 
ing, however, is not priesthood, because the necessity for its interposi- 
tion is reasonable, moral, and spiritual. 

A priest, therefore, as he does not make the worshipper more fit to 
worship in himself, implies necessarily that man cannot approach God. 
The necessity for his mediation arises out of this : man cannot ap- 
proach God, but he may approach to some other being, and this other 
being may approach God. Thus this intermediate being stands to man 
in the place of God, and man's direct relations towards God himself 
are declared to be an impossibility. 

We have arrived at a great and divine truth ; the very foundation 

stone, indeed, of Christianity. Wo cannot come to God directly ; we 

require one to be to us in the place of God. But one in the place of 

y God and not God, is as it were a falsehood ; it is the mother-falsehood 


from which all idolatij is derired. The myvteiy <^ Christianitj has 
met this necessity of our nature, and at the same time has avoided the 
eyil of the falsehood. We have one who is to us in the place of God, 
but who is also God truly ; — we hare one whom we may approach, 
although we cannot approach God, for he is also truly man. 

It has been well said, that no error is mere error ; something there 
is of truth erer mixed with it. So the error of human priesthoods does 
indeed but express a great truth, that man cannot come to God without 
a mediator. But this truth is to man, when left to his own devices, 
either useless or mischievous. He attempts to act upon it by devising 
for himself a human mediator, and he &lls at once into superstition and 

Again, the human mediator, as I have said before, does nothing to 
bring us in ourselves really nearer to God. His interference at all, 
implies that we are separated from God ; this separation is a moral 
thing, arising out of our unlikeness to God. But the human mediator 
does nothing to restore to us God's likeness. It is strictly true, there- 
fore, that his interposition has no moral value : it makes us neither 
better nor holier ; it therefore shows the falsehood of its own claim ; 
for while professing to bring us to God, it leaves us as far from him as 

But the true Mediator does not so : while he reconciles God to man, 
1^ also reconciles man to God. He works by his Spirit upon our own 
nature, and weeds out from it the seeds as it were of our alienation 
from God. Thus he does bring us near to God, for he makes us like 
God. And he is our one and only Priest, our one and only Mediator. 

Some there are who profess to join cordially in this doctrine, and ask 
who disputes it. So little do they understand the very tenets which 
they uphold. For they themselves dispute and deny it, inasmuch as 
they maintain that the sacraments are necessary to salvation, and that 
they can only be effectually administered by a man appointed afler a 
certain form. And thus they set up again the human mediator, which 
is idolatry, and they show the falsehood of his claim, because they make 
a man like ourselves necessary to bring us near to God, and this man, 
who is to complete Christ's work, and reconcile to God those whom 
Christ had lefl alienated, cannot touch the slightest part of the soul or 
mind of any one. If we were separated from God, he cannot bring us 
to him ; for we remain in ourselves, when his ministration is over, just 
the same as we were before. 

This dogma, then, of a human priesthood in Christ's Church, appoint- 
ed to administer his sacraments, and thereby to mediate between God 
and man, from no reasonable or moral necessity, is a thing quite dis- 


tinct from any exaggerated notions of the activity of government : it is 
not the excess of a beneficent truth, but it is, from first to last, consid- 
ering that it is addressed to Christians, who have their Divine Priest 
and Mediator already, a mere error ; and an error not merely specu- 
lative, but fraught with all manner of mischief, idolatrous and demoral- 
izing, destructive of Christ's Church ; injurious to Christ and to his Spi- 
rit ; the worst and earliest form of Antichrist. 

This error is demoralizing, because it has led to the false distinction 
between secular things and spiritual, and has tended to bring back 
Christianity to the likeness of a heathen religion, by changing it from a 
law of life to a matter of rites and outward observances ; from which 
the care of the general moral character of every man is a thing alto- 
gether dififerent. 

It has led to the false distinction between secular things and spiritual. 
For in all the acts of life into which it was the design of Christianity 
to bring God and Christ, the priest is altogether excluded. In the 
works of justice and mercy, in the feelings of devotion, of hope, of fear, 
of love, the priest can find no place, for what is real and moral repels 
him. His element is only what is formal, shadowy, ceremonial ; and 
in order to make himself of importance, he must raise what is shadowy 
and ceremonial into the place of what is real and moral. Men can act 
in life without him, and feel without him ; but he tells them that cer- 
tain ceremonial acts cannot be performed without him, and then he goes 
on and teaches that these ceremonial acts are the essence of religion. 

But in Christianity his task was hard, because even in its very cere- 
monies the essence was something real and moral. When Christians 
met together and received the bread and wine of their common living 
as the body and blood of Christ, such an act had a real tendency to 
strengthen and confirm their souls, and the Holy Spirit made such a 
communion a constant means of grace to those who partook of it. But 
here there was no place for the priest ; on the one side there was 
Christ's Church assembled, on the other there was Christ and his Spi- 
rit to bless them. The priest then steps in, diverts attention from the 
moral part of this communion, from its peculiar union of things divine 
and human, of social feelings and religious, from its hallowing of com- 
mon life, by making us even eat and drink to God's glory and our own 
salvation, and fixes it upon a supposed mystical virtue conveyed to the 
bread and wine by the pronouncing of certain words over them by a 
certain person. The bread and wine became the sacrament of Christ's 
body and blood according to Christ's ordinance, by the assembled church 
receiving them as such ; by their converting an act of nature into an 
act of religion ; by their agreeing to partake together as of their earthly 


food, 80 also of their spiritual, and thus being joined to. one another in 
Christ. The agreement, therefore, of those communicating their com- 
mon faith and love constitute the real consecration of the bread and 
wine ; it is this which, through Christ's Spirit, changes the supper into 
the sacrament. 

But the priest says, " Not so : it is not jour conmion faith and pur- 
pose to celebrate the communion : it is not the fact of Christ having 
died and risen again which can bring him to you or you to him : I must 
interpose, and pronounce certain words over the bread and over the 
cup ; and then what neither your faith nor Christ's redemption of you 
had made other than common food, becomes now, through my media- 
tion, a thing endowed with a divine virtue, nay, it is become Christ 
himself. Whether there be any communion of yourselves or no, whe- 
ther you are alone or with one another, whether you are concurring in 
spirit or no, still, because I, the priest, have pronounced certain 
words over it, it has acquired a miraculous power, and unless you are 
partakers of this you cannot be saved." So the communion of the 
iChurch, which morally was so essential, is thus made unessential ; and 
the uttering certain words by a particular person, of which neither 
Christ nor his apostles had said anything, and which morally can have 
no virtue at all, is made essential. And thus was the Church sup- 
planted by the priest ; and the communion which is the very life of the 
Church, became the mass, with all its superstitions and idolatries. 

The Church being set aside, and the principal part in the commu- 
nion being transferred from it to the priest, his office grew in import- 
ance, and the Church in the same proportion, became removed from 
Christ, and desecrated. Then the priest was regarded as the minister 
of Christ in spiritual things, the Church only in temporal. For not 
only in the communion, but in the public prayers and exhortations of 
the Church, the Church itself was reduced more and more to a passive 
condition, — the priest alone was active. Thus there were some whose 
business was religion, and others whose business it was not. Reli- 
gion and life were separated ; the one was called spiritual, when it 
was in reality become less so ; the other was called, and became truly 
secular. The salt which Christ had given to the Church, that each 
man might by it render the world and worldly things pure and holy to 
him, the Church had now to seek from the priest ; and because it was 
to be sought from another, it in great measure lost its savour. 



It has been stated generally that the efficacy of the Church has been 
destroyed by the^ excess of a good and necessary principle, that of go- 
vernment, and the introduction of another principle, wholly false and 
mischievous, that of priesthood. The first in itself, the Church recog- 
nises, and must ever recognise ; the second she wholly repudiates. 
And thus we shall find that, while there is much said in Scripture in 
commendation of the one, the other is altogether omitted, as an 
element belonging to Heathenism, and not to Christianity. 

Now, omitting all the commandments given us to obey government 
in general, and all such passages as claim obedience to the Apostles 
personally, we find several injunctions to submit ourselves to the rulers 
of the Church, being Christians, and yet not being Apostles ; — and alj 
these injunctions are a proof of our first position, that the principle of 
government in the Christian Church is recognised and sanctioned in 
the Scriptures. 

I. St. Paul, in the earliest of all his Epistles, the first to the Thessa- 
lonians, entreats the church of Thessalonica to acknowledge or recog- 
nise, eti^neti, those that laboured among them, and were over them in 
the Lord, and who admonished them, fovS-tToZtretg viA.Zi, And he calls 
on the church to " esteem them very highly in love for their work's 
sake." 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. 

II. In two passages, Galatians vi. 6, and 1 Timothy v. 17, he asserts 
the claim of the governors of the church to be maintained by the 
church. In the first, indeed, he speaks only of such governors of the 
church as are instructors ; «dii«>ff/r*> i\ i xetrti^ou/Mfoi to? Xoycir^ 
Kxrtj^oZiTt fv 9r«0'/y ayxSoti ; but in the second passage, while he ac- 
knowledges the especial claim of such, he extends the right to all 
rulers of the church generally, whatever may be their particular func- 
tions : OS xaXSi ^fUTrSrii yrptv^vrtpoi hnX^i Ti/uLrii et^tcuT^itTett, 

III. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says also, " Obey 
your rulers and submit to them ; — and that this means the Christian 
rulers of the church is evident by what follows, " for they watch as men 
who are to give an account for your souls ;" which of course could not 
be said of Heathen authorities. 

IV. To these may be added all that is said of the qualifications of 
an i7riV««7r*$ in the first Epistle to Timothy and in that to Titus ; 

THS cHimoa. 31 

and which implies that government in the church was a thing essential 
and recognised from the beginning. 

V. St. Peter, as if writing under the liveliest recollection of our 
Lord's charge to himself^ and of the strong contrast which Christ had 
drawn between the common practice of heathen government and that 
which should prevail among Christians, thus writes in his first Epistle, 
V. 2, to the elders of the several churches : Feed the flock of God 
which is among jou, taking the oversight thereol^" firirjM3r««ffTf(, "not 
by constraint, but willingly ;" Lachman adds »«r« et •? < as becomes 
a servant and child of God ;' '* not for filthy lucre," which implies that 
lucre might be a motive, that is, that the rulers of the church were 
maintained by the church, *'but of a ready mind." 

VI. We road also in the Acts, that Paul and Barnabas appointed 
elders to govern the churches which they founded in Lycaonia and the 
south of Asia Minor, xiv. 23 ; and St. Paul addresses the elders of the 
church of Ephesus, xx. 28, in the same language as St. Peter, charge 
ing them " to feed the church of God." Now this term of " feeding as a 
shepherd feeds his flock," is one of the oldest and most universal meta- 
phors to express a supreme and at the same time a beneficent govern- 

It is needless to multiply other passages, as those already quoted are 
abundantly sufficient to show that Christianity supposes and sanctions 
the principle of government in the church, and reciprocally the princi- 
ple of obedience ; that in this respect the church was to resemble all 
other societies ; some of its members were to rule and others were to 
be subject. 

But of the principle of priesthood, by which one man or set of men, 
are declared to be necessary mediators for their brethren, so that with- 
out them their brethren cannot worship God acceptably or be sufliered 
to approach him, the Scriptures contain not one word, except as reject- 
ing and condemning it. This of course cannot be shown by extracts 
as to the negative part of it : it will be sufficient to show that the 
passages usually quoted by the advocates of the priesthood as sanction- 
ing their notions are all misinterpreted, or misapplied ; and then to 
give some passages which assert the contrary to the doctrine of the 
priesthood, and describe it as one of the great privileges of the Christian 
Church, that its one great High Priest, Jesus Christ, has given it full 
access to God for ever, so that there is nothing for priesthood to do, or 
rather for human priesthood to pretend to do for it, any more, so long 
as earth shall endure. 

The principle of priesthood unmixed with any other, is seen in the 
Christian Church most plainly in the claim to administer the Lord's Sup* 


per. I say this rather than, in the claim to administer the sacraments 
generally, or in the so-called power of the keys, because although 
something of the notion of priesthood has undoubtedly been mixed with 
both these, and especially with the latter ; and although in practice ab- 
solution has come to be a proper priestly act, yet in their origin both the 
power of baptizing and that of absolving were in a great degree acts of 
government ; bemg in fact the power of admitting or of restoring members 
to the privileges of the Christian society. But the claim of administer- 
ing the Lord's Supper is the assumption of a power exclusively priestly ; 
it interposes in an act with which government has nothing to do, and 
its supposed object is merely inward and spiritual — to give a spiritual ef- 
ficacy to that which without its interference would have been common 
food. The Scripture, then, might recognise an exclusive power of bap- 
tizing or of excommunicating and absolving, without at all countenanc- 
ing the notion of a priesthood, because it might view such a power as 
one naturally belonging to the rulers of any society, and as connected 
therefore with government only. But if it be found to recognise an ex- 
clusive claim of administering the Lord's Supper, then no doubt it must 
be allowed in the strictest sense to recognise in Christianity a human 

This power is said accordingly to be recognised by the Apostle Paul 
in two passages, 1 Corinth, iv. 1, and again in the same Epistle, x. 16. 

L In the first passage St. Paul says, '* Let a man so account of us 
as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of GodJ*^ It 
is contended that by this last expression, St. Paul means to say that him- 
self and his fellow ministers were 'dispensers of the sacraments." 

But, in the first place. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are not in the 
Scripture sense mysteries at all. A mystery, in the Scripture, is a hid- 
den truth ; almost always it signifies a truth hidden generally from 
men, but revealed to the people of God. By a figure, Christ himself is 
twice called " the mystery of God," or " of godliness," Coloss. i. 27, 
1 Tim. iii. 16, because his manifestation in the flesh is the great 
truth which Christianity has revealed to us. Baptism and the Lord's 
Supper are actions connected with the Christian mysteries, but they 
are not mysteries themselves ; much less are they so especially deserv- 
ing of the term as to engross it to themselves, and to become the pro- 
minent idea expressed by it« 

Again ; by whatever name St. Paul might have called himself^ it 
certainly would not have been "a dispenser of the sacraments." He 
had just before said that his business was not to baptize, but to preach 
the gospel ; that, so far from it being his office to "dispense the sacra- 
ments," be had only baptized three or four individuals in the course of 


his whole ministrj at Corinth. He who thus studiously devolved on 
others the ministration of one of the sacraments^ could scarcely have 
desired the Corinthians to regard him as being appointed especially to 
dispense them. 

On the other hand, we find him saying, a little before, that he and 
his fellow ministers were in the habit of speaking of *' the wisdom d 
God in a mystery," or rather '* God's secret or hidden wisdom," the 
wisdom hidden from men, which God fore-ordained before the world unto 
our glory. And again further on in the Epistle, he uses the expression 
^I have had a dispensation,"or * stewardship,' if •1x010/^0$ in the former 
passage be translated * steward,' ^' entrusted to me." Now this dis- 
jiensation is so certainly the 'dispensation of the Gospel," by preach- 
ing, that the gloss ivnyytXtcv has actually found its way into the text, 
and is expressed in the common editions, and in our translation. It is 
shown by the whole context, in which he repeatedly says that his busi- 
ness is " to preach the Gospel." There can be no doubt, therefore, 
that when he describes himself as *' a steward or dispenser of the myste- 
ries of God," ho means that very same *' speaking of the wisdom of 
God in a mystery," that very same " dispensation of the Gospel by 
preaching," which, in other parts of this Epistle he declares to have 
been his business as an Apostle ; just as he declares also, that " to dis- 
pense the sacraments" was not his business ; for he says, " God called 
me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel." 

II. The second passage is as follows : ^ the cup of blessing which 
we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ ? The bread 
which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ ? " This 
shows, it is argued, that it belonged to the Apostles to bless the cup at 
the communion, and to break the bread : in other words, to consecrate 
the elements, and so to give to them their sacramental character and 

It is evident that the whole force of this passage depends on the 
meaning of the word " we." If " we " means " we Apostles," as 
distinguished from other Christians, then the argument would have 
some plausibility ; but if " we " means not " we Apostles," but "we 
Christians," then the whole argument falls to the ground at once. 
Now the very next verse goes on as follows : " For we being many 
are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread." 
It is then, not " we the Apostles," but " we Christians," " we being 
many," " we all," " who bless the cup of blessing, and break the 
bread." So far from proving that there exists in Christianity a priestly 
power in the administration of the communion, this passage shows the 


The contrary also fully appears from the general language of the 
New Testament. It is declared as plainly as words can speak, that, 
in a religious sense, ail Christians are equal before God, and that all 
are brought near to him, have access to him, are reconciled to 
him, are his heirs, and his children. Now some of these terms 
were applicable to the whole Jewish church, and yet in that church 
there was undoubtedly a human priesthood. But the Epistle to 
the Hebrews shows the great distinction, when it says that we are 
sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all ; 
that sacrifices must therefore cease to be offered ; and that as the 
especial object of the Jewish priesthood was to sacrifice, so it may be 
presumed, that where no sacrifice remains to be offered,* so neither, 
should there be any priest. It is not pretended that all Christians are 
equal socially ; for some are governors and others are governed : nor 
are they so equal as to render distinctions for order's sake in their 
public meetings unnecessary ; for women are not allowed to speak in 
the congregation : but they are equal religiously, as being all alike 
redeemed by Christ, and brought by him near to God ; that is, put into 
a condition to offer to him acceptably all religious offices ; and in the 
only remaining kind of sacrifice, the spiritual offering of themselves to 
God, commanded to be, every man his own priest ; inasmuch as by our* 
selves alone can our own hearts and bodies be devoted as thank-offer* 
ings to him who made them and redeemed them. 

We find, then, no place in Scripture for the notion that any human 
mediation is required in order to perfect the purely religious acts of 
Christians. As all Christians can pray acceptably through Christ's 
mediation, so can all communicate acceptably in the signs of his body 
and blood ; such communion being manifestly not an act peculiar to 
the rulers of the society, but belonging to all the members of it ; and 
therein differing from baptism, which is an act of government, so to 
speak, as well as an act of religion ; and may, therefore be fitly appro- 
priated to one particular order of society, not as priests but as governors. 

It will be understood in what sense I call baptism an act of govern* 
ment, if it be considered that it is, amongst other things, the admis- 
sion of a new member into the Christian society, and that, as such, it 
belongs properly to those who have authority given to them in that so- 
ciety ; for where is the private individual, who is allowed at his own 
choice to admit strangers to the rights of citizenship in the conunon- 
wealth ? It does not follow that baptism is nothing more than an act 
of government ; but because it is clearly this, whatever it may be be- 

♦ For his own view of what was the true Christian sacrifice still continued, see 
Introd. to Serm. vol lY. p. 1 ; Serm. vol V. p. 373. 


sides, tkerefere it is at least possible tliat when the power of adminis- 
teriog it is ascribed exclusively to one particular order in the church, 
there should be in this no allowance of any priestly power, but simply 
of the power of the magistrates or rulers of a society. We shall see, 
hj and by, that this distinction is not unimportant. 

Farther ; it may appear on examination, that the very power of the 
keys itself when rightly understood, implies nothing of a priesthood, 
but only the legitimate power of government. 

It will be asked, however, what is the right understanding of this 
well-known expression, " The power of the keys 7" And the answer 
must not be given lightly ; for we are here concerned not with the 
careless words of fallible men, but with a solemn promise to the 
Church, made at three several times by Christ our Lord. Undoubt* 
edly, therefore, the power of the keys means something, and that mean- 
ing cannot be a matter of indifierence. 

The promise was made by our Lord on three several occasions : — 

1. To St. Peter, apparently as a reward to that Apostle for his 
confessing his Master to be the Christ. Matthew, xvi. 19. 

2. To the whole body or church of Christians, as a sanction to their 
sentence, when he had ordered that all quarrels between Christian 
and Christian should in the last resort be referred to the decision of the 
Church. Matthew, xviii. 18. 

9. To the eleven Apostles, when our Lord, after his resurrection, 
was giving them their commission to found and govern his Church. 
John, XX. 23. 

In the first two of these promises the words are identical, and 
they are figurative. They run, " Whatsoever thou," or * ye,' " shalt 
bind on earth shall be bound in heaven : and whatsoever thou," or 
*ye ' ^' shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." In the third 
the words are difierent, although the sense is generally supposed to be 
nearly the same. They are, '* Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are 
remitted unto them ; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are re- 

*' To bind and to loose " are metaphors certainly, but metaphors 
easy to be understood. The y express a legislative a nd a judiciaL^ 
pyw^r. To bind, legislatively, is to impose a general obligation ; to 
say that a thing ought to be done or ought not to be done : to bind 
men's consciences either to the doing of it or to the abstaining from it. 
Thus, St Paul speaks of a woman being bound so long as her husband 
lives ; but of being free to marry whom she will, if her husband be 
dead. In the one case there was a binding of the conscience, in the 
other a loosing of it. And this is one part of the sense of the ex* 



pression. Again ; to bind judicially, is to impose a particular obliga* 
tion on an individual, to oblige him to do or to suffer certain things for 
the sake of justice, which, if left to himself, he would not choose to do 
or suffer. And to loose judicially, is to pronounce a man free from 
any such obligation ; to declare that justice does not require of him, 
in this particular case, to do or to suffer anything for its satisfaction. 
Justice has no claim upon him, — she leaves him free. This Is the 
second part of the expression. 

It is to this second part, to the binding and loosing judicially, that 
the third promise of our Lord belongs. For the retaining and remits 
ting* of sins is clearly a judicial power : the retaining of sin is the pro- 
nouncing that a man is bound to do or suffer something as a satisfac* 
tion for it ; the remitting of sin is the pronouncing that justice has no 
hold upon him, that he is acquitted, loosed, freed from all her demands 
on him. 

But such a legislative and judicial power is a power of government ; 
government in fact consisting mainly of these two great powers, the 
legislative and judicial. We do not as yet find any thing then in the 
power of the keys that bears any relation to priesthood, according to 
that definition of it which was given above — that it is an interpo- 
sition between God and man supposed to be necessary to our accept- 
ance with God, yet without being necessary or beneficial to us morally. 
And this is strictly the idea of priestly absolution. For whether it be 
said that he who is absolved is forgiven by God, or that he who is not 
absolved is not forgiven by God ; there is in either case an act made 
essential or beneficial to our salvation, which yet makes us morally 
neither the better nor the worse. Absolution then so understood is a 
a proper act of priesthood. But does such a power of absolution form 
any part of the Christian power of the kdys ? 

It has been contended that it does, and our Lord's words to his Apos- 
ttes are appealed to as the proof of this : — " Whosesoever sins ye re- 
mit, they are remitted unto them ; and whosesoever sins ye retain, 
they are retained." Now here there are two questions : — ^First,. 
What was the meaning of our Lord's promise as addressed to the 
Apostles ? Secondly how much of this meaning was intended to any 
except the Apostles ? 

1. It is allowed that this promise conferred on the Apostles a judi- 
cial power, as distinct from a legislative one ; it gave them authority 
to decide on individual cases ; to pronounce that such or such a man 
was forgiven, in some sense or other ; and that such or such a man 
was not forgiven. But the great question is, whether this power can 
be shown to be distinct from a power of government ; that is, were 


the forgiveness or refusal of forgiveness here spoken of distinct from 
some outward sentence passed upon a man with reference to the Chris- 
tian society : and were they grounded upon any thing more than ac« 
tions cognizable by human perception, and therefore the fit objects of 
human reward or censure. For the peculiarity of a priestly power 
consists in this : that its sentence, in its essence, is not outward but 
inward ; affecting a man not in his relations to the Christian society, 
but in his relations towards God, and grounded therefore upon a know- 
ledge of more than actions cognizable by human perception, of the 
thoughts and motives of the heart. For there is no doubt that our 
state towards God depends mainly on the state of our hearts, so that a 
judgment of the former cannot be passed without a knowledge of the 

We must separate, then, all such judicial acts as the declaration of 
forgiveness implied in the admission of new converts to baptism; 
and as the declaration of the retaining of sins implied in the striking 
of Elymas with blindness, in the visiting the incestuous Corinthian 
with some bodily punishment, in excommunication, and in the deaths 
of Ananias and Sapphira. In all these cases there was an outward- 
sentence, affecting men outwardly and visibly in their earthly condi- 
tion ; and this sentence was grounded on some outward action ; in- 
baptism for instance, on the profession of repentance and faith ; and in 
the other instances on acts of a similar character to those which hu- 
man law habitually punishes. 

But can we find, over and above such instances as these, any cases 
in which the Apostles, without any visible or outward sentence, passed 
a judgment simply on the state of an individual towards God ; and a 
judgment founded, not on outward and tangible acts, but on a knowledge 
of the sincerity or insincerity of his feeling ? We read of no such 
cases ; but we find such language used respecting Christ's judgment, 
and God's knowledge of the thoughts of the heart, as is agreeable to 
our common impression, that of the state of a man's heart with respect 
to God, God is the only judge. 1 Sam. xvi. 7. 1 Kings, viii. 39. 
Jerem. xvii. 9, 10. Luke, xvi. 15. 1 Cor. iv. 4, 5. 

It may seem that in one instance an Apostle did possess a power of 
reading the heart, when Paul is said to have perceived that the cripple 
who steadfastly listened to his speech at Lystra, " had faith to be healed." 
It is not certain, however, that there was in this case any reading of 
the heart ; "the steadfast listening," the expression of deep interest in 
Paul's words manifested in the whole countenance and attitude of the 
hearer, were an evidence not to be mistaken that he was thoroughly 
convinced by what he heard. But admitting for a moment that the 


Apostle's was a deeper judgment than he could have formed by his 
mere faculties ; yet in this case we have God's warrant that he had 
judged rightly, inasmuch as the man's faith was proved by his being 
cured of his lameness at Paul's word. So that even if there was a 
sentence grounded on such things as man cannot naturally discern, yet 
the proof was given that the judgment was right, by its being fol- 
lowed by an outward consequence, greater than man alone could have 

2. So much of the power given by our Lord to his Apostles, as de- 
pended on their possessing a greater than human knowledge, would 
not, of course, be given to those who do not possess that knowledge* 
And if any man says that he does possess such knowledge, and if the 
claim does not prove itself, as in prophecy or in telling to a man what 
was in his thoughts, then we may call upon him for some sign that he 
does possess it. If he says positively that such a man has his sins for- 
given in the sight of God, then he should tell him as St. Paul did, to 
stand upright on his feet, or should relieve him from some trouble or 
infirmity by which he is manifestly afflicted. If he says as positively 
that such and such a man is not forgiven, then let him also show his 
power of delivering such an one to Satan for the destruction of the 
flesh, that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord. 

It does not appear that the Apostles ever exercised what was pro- 
perly a priestly power. Admitting however, for the moment, that they 
had exercised it, yet as such a power is of an extraordinary character, and 
requires more than the ordinary attributes of human nature to exercise 
it properly ; and as the Apostles were endowed with certain extraor- 
dinary gifts, such as are not possessed by men in general ; we should 
be justified in assuming some connexion between their power and their 
gifts, and might safely conclude that those who had not the latter could 
not enjoy the former. But the case is stronger, now that it can- 
not be shown that even the Apostles possessed a priestly power. If 
such a power was too great even for them to wield, how can it be sup- 
posed that others can wield it, on whom none of their extraordinary 
qualifications have descended ? 

The nearest approach to a priestly power recognised in the New 
Testament is in the effects of intercessory prayer ; for if we pray for 
grace for our brother, and God grants our prayer, we seem to be in 
some sort the channel of God's mercy to him, without producing any 
effect upon him morally ; and this was laid down to be the character- 
istic of a priestly power as distinct from a ministry or cure of souls, 
which acts on those committed to its charge through moral means. 

However, the virtue of intercessory prayer is in itself widely differ- 


ent from the pretended priestly power to give a virtue to the sacraments. 
The peculiarly unchristian part of this latter claim is this, that it makes 
a human mediator necessary to those who are actually acknowledging, 
trusting in, and earnestly desiring to enjoy the fruits of Christ's media- 
tion ; whereas no one would say that our own prayers, offered up ac* 
cording to Christ's Spirit, and in Christ's name will not be accepted, 
miless others will also pray for us. The prayers of others in our be- 
half are not made the condition on which alone our own earnest 
prayers shall be accepted. 

I ntercessory p rayer in its highest cases supposes that a man has not 
the grace of rep^{an<% and faith ; that he is not at present morally in 
a state of acceptance with God. It is the very worst part of his con- 
dition, that he will not pray for himself. Under these circumstances 
that God should have graciously left a way open by which his friends 
may labour with hope in his behalf; that over and above the secret 
and inscrutable ways by which he, according to his own pleasure, 
sometimes touches the heart of the impenitent sinner, he should have 
also revealed one way in which the love of his friends may work for 
him ; this would be a very difierent thing from declaring that a man's 
own faith, and love, and prayers, shall be of no use unless other men 
shall also interpose for him. It is one thing to enable human charity to 
be serviceable to him who, if left to himself, would be lost ; and an« 
other to allow human presumption to declare its aid necessary to him, 
who having received Christ's grace through faith, is already saved. 

But there is yet another great difterence which effectually separates 
the intercessory prayer of Christians from the mediation of a priest- 
hood ; namely, that its efficacy is not limited, or given especially, to the 
prayers of any one order of men : it is not the priest who is to pray 
for the people, but the ministers and the people who are to pray for 
each other ; nay a peculiar stress is laid on the efficacy of the united 
prayers of many; so that we may assume that the prayers of the peo- 
ple are at least as important to the minister, as his prayers are to them. 

Here, however, we shall be referred to that well-known passage in 
the epistle of St. James, which directs the sick to call in the elders of 
the church, and speaks of the elders praying over them and anointing 
them with oil in the name of the Lord, and of their being raised up by 
virtue of this prayer. Now here again a manifest distinction must be 
taken, between those elders who possessed the gift of healing, and 
others who have it not ; it cannot be maintained that with regard to the 
especial subject there spoken of, the recovery, namely, of a sick person, a 
general conclusion follows as to the peculiar efficacy of the prayers of 
presbyters in all times, because they were peculiarly efficacious when 


combined with the gifl of healing. But I should he unwilling to limit 
the words of the Apostle entirely to bodily cures, or to the circumstances 
of the early church. I would allow, most readily, that they are of 
general and perpetual application, but their meaning makes against 
any priestly power in the clergy, rather than establishes it. 

The object of the passage is to encourage the exercise of those mu- 
tual spiritual aids rendered by Christians to each other, which are one 
of the great objects and privileges of the institution of the Church. 
The body was to sympathize with its several members. If a man was 
in trouble, he was to pray ; if in joy, to sing hymns : in neither case is 
the Apostle speaking of private prayer or private singing ; but of those 
of the Christian congregation : there every individual Christian could 
find the best relief for his sorrows, and the liveliest sympathy in his joy. 
St. Paul's command, " Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep 
with them that weep," applies to this same sympathy, which the pray- 
ers and hymns of the church services were a constant means of ex- 
pressing. But if a man were sick and could not go to the congrega- 
tion, still he was not to lose the benefit of his Christian communion 
with them ; he might then ask them to come to him ; and as the whole 
congregation could not thus be summoned, the elders were to go as its 
representatives, and their prayers were to take the place of the prayers 
of the whole church. Care, however, is taken to show that the virtue of 
their prayers arises not from their being priests, but from their being 
Christians, and standing in the place of the whole church. For these 
words immediately follow ; " confess therefore to one another your sins, 
and pray for one another, that ye may be healed ; there is much virtue in 
a just man's prayer, when it is oflTered earnestly." Now this most divine 
system of a living church, in which all were to aid each other, in which 
each man might open his heart to his neighbour, and receive the help 
of his prayers, and in which each man's earnest prayer, offered in 
Christ's name, had so high a promise of blessing annexed to it, has 
been most destroyed by that notion of a priesthood, which claiming 
that men should confess their sins to the clergy, not as to their breth- 
ren, but as to God's vicegerents, and confining the promised blessing 
to the prayers of the clergy as priests, not as Christians, nor as the 
representatives of the whole church, has changed the sympathy of a 
Christian society into the dominion of a priesthood and the mingled 
.carelessness and superstition of a laity. 

John's language agrees with that of James : " If any man see his 
l}rother sinning a sin which is not unto death, he shall pray, and Christ 
shall give him life, for those who are not sinning unto death. There 
is a sin unto death ; — it is not for that that I am bidding him to prayJ^ 


Here the veiy same blessing which James speaks of as following the 
elder's prayers, is said bj John to follow the prayer of any Christian : 
— a clear proof that the elders were sent for as the representatives of 
the churchy and not as if their prayers possessed a peculiar virtue, be- 
cause they stood as priests between God and the people. 

Thus then we find much in Scripture which recognises high powers 
of government in the Christian church ; but nothing which acknow- 
ledges a priesthood. The distinction is of immense importance, for 
from the co vert intermixture of priesthood with government ha s follow* 
ed the great corruption of the divine plan of the Christian church. 



The chapter which I am now going to write is in truth superfluous. 
Although its particular object were proved ever so fully, yet this would 
be a less gain than loss, if any were by the nature of the argument en- 
couraged to believe that we are to seek for our knowledge of Christian- 
ity any where else but in the Scriptures. What we find there is a part 
of Christianity, whether recognised as such or no in after ages ; what 
we do not find there is no part of Christianity, however early or how- 
ever general may have been the attempts to interpolate it. If this be 
not so, we must change our religion and our Master : we can be no 
longer Christians, servants of Christ, instructed by him and his own 
Apostles ; but Alexandrianists, Syrianists, Asianists, following the no- 
tions which happened to prevail in the Church according to the prepon- 
derance of particular local or temporary influences, and following as 
our master neither the wisdom of God, nor even the wisdom of men ; 
but the opinions of a time and state of society, whose inferiority in all 
other respects is acknowledged, — and the guidance of individuals, not 
one of whom approaches nearly to that greatness which in the case of 
the great Greek philosophers made an implicit veneration for their de- 
cisions in some degree excusable. 

If it could be shown that the unanimous voice of men eminent alike 
for goodness and for wisdom, had from theH^irliest times insisted upon 
some doctrine or practice not taught or commanded in the New Testa- 
ment as an essential part of Christianity ; if it should appear that this 
doctrine or practice were in no way favourable to their own importance 
or interest ; and if it could be shown, also, that it was not in accord- 
ance with the way of thinking prevalent in their age and country, — 
but could have commended itself to their minds by nothing but its in- 
trinsic excellence, — then, indeed, the doctrine might be concluded to be 
reasonable, and the practice good : but the omission of all notice of 
them by our Lord and his Apostles would be a fact so unaccountable 
and so staggering, that the triumph of ecclesiastical tradition would be 
the destruction of all well grounded faith in the authenticity of our records 
of Christianity, nay it would involve in the most painful uncertainty the 
very truth of the Christian revelation. For if Christ and his Apostles 


omitted any essential part of Christianitj ; if their revelation was not 
perfect ; then the dispensation of the fulness of times must be sought 
for elsewhere : and the claim of Mohammedanism, that it is the perfect, 
ing of the earlier dispensations, the Jewish and Christian, ceases to 
be blasphemous* Or if it be said that the doctrine or practice in ques- 
tion were inculcated hj Christ and his Apostles, although they are not 
noticed in the New Testament, then what is our security that other vi- 
tal points have not been omitted in like manner in our epistles and gos- 
pels ? And when we consider what the New Testament is ; that it con- 
tains four detailed accounts of our Lord's life and teaching* one of which 
was written by his beloved disciple St. John ; that it contains an ac- 
count of the first propagation <f£ Christianity by our Lord's Apostles ; 
that it contains, farther, thirteen or fourteen epistles of St. Paul, writ- 
ten some to churches, some to individuals, and comprehending syste- 
matic views of what Christianity is ; appeals innumerable to its mo- 
tives, its hopes, audits consolations ; exhortations innumerable to cling 
to its truths and to walk in its precepts, with specific mention of these 
truths and precepts ; — when we consider, farther, that we have in the 
same Scriptures an epistle from St. James, the head of the church of 
Jerusalem, whose mind and views, humanly speaking, were least like 
those of St. Paul ; and that we have epistles also firom St. Peter and 
St. John, two of our Lord's very chiefest Apostles, and that these epis- 
tles are addressed to Christians generally, and dwell on those points of 
Christian faith and life which it was most essential to bear in mind ; 
then if all these writers, all these great Apostles, in these long and 
varied writings, have omitted with one accord themselves, and have 
represented our Lord as omitting, any essential doctrine or practice of 
Christianity, how can we believe that they were indeed partakers of 
that Holy Spirit which was to guide them into all truth ? How can we 
think that they were really empowered by God to be the preachers and 
authoritative teachers of his revelation ? 

Or, it may be said, that the New Testament refers only to the begin- 
nings of the Gospel ; that the new converts received, indeed, id dray. 
xat6iaxa tr^s naidtlag lov Xf^iarov, — such truths as were most indispens- 
able, and without which they could not have been Christians at all ; 
but that the full development of the system of Christianity was reserved 
for a later season ; that the Scriptures themselves imply this, inasmuch 
as, in the epistle to the Hebrews, a distinction is expressly drawn be- 
tween the first principles of the doctrine of Christ and the going on un- 
to perfection, and the writer of that epistle complains that they whom he 
was addressing were not yet fit for thb more perfect truth. That in 
this manner the doctrine of the Christian priesthood and of the mystic 


virtue of the sacraments is not, indeed, fully developed in the New 
Testament, but was taught by the Apostles at the very close of their 
career, and received by the Church as their last and most perfect in- 
struction, which was to complete the revelation of Christianity. 

It has pleased God that of the peculiar teaching of the great majori- 
ty of the Apostles we should know nothing ; we cannot say with cer- 
tainty what they taught individually at any period of their lives. But 
we can say positively that the latest teaching of St. Paul, St. Peter, and 
St. John, contained in it no more perfect revelation concerning the 
priesthood and the sacraments than they had made known at the be- 
ginning of the gospel. St. Paul's second espistle to Timothy must 
surely be considered as containing his latest views of Christianity ; 
and as being addressed to one who was himself a teacher, it must have 
contained those views fully ; it cannot be pretended that St. Paul had 
any doctrine too esoterical to be communicated to Timothy. But his 
latest epistle, amidst many diiferences of expression from his earlier 
writings, such as the lapse of years brings to all men, contains in sub- 
stance the very same view of Christianity which we find in the epistles 
to the Thessalonians. Paul's gospel is still Christ's resurrection, God's 
free salvation, Christ's coming to judgment. He is still as averse as 
ever to strifes about words ; he warns Timothy that the time will come 
when Christians shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be 
turned unto fables. He refers him to his past doctrine ever since Ti- 
mothy first knew him, not as to an imperfect system, to which he was 
now going to add some great truth hitherto suppressed, but as that very 
system which he earnestly wished to save from corruption and interpo- 
lation. This was Paul's language at a period when he declares that 
he bad finished his course on earth, and had only to enter into his 

As wo learn Paul's latest sentiments from his second epistle to Ti- 
mothy, so we learn those of Peter from his second epistle general. 
He too speaks of himself in that epistle as leaving to the church his 
dying admonition, as telling them the things which they might have al- 
ways in remembrance afler he was gone. Does this epistle contain 
that great doctrine of the priesthood and sacraments which, when he 
wrote his first epistle, the Church was too weak to bear ? In that first 
epistle, having used the expression "that baptism saved Christians,'' 
he hastens at once to explain his meaning, lest any should understand 
him superstitiously ; and says that he does not mean by baptism's saving 
us, that the bodily washing with water saves ; but the answer of a good 
conscience towards God, when men in repentance and faith were ad- 
mitted into the fellowship of Christ's redemption. His explanation is 

TBM CHVftCH. 35 

clearly intended to draw off our attention from the outward rite to the 
moral state of the person receiving it : it was the repentance and faith 
of the person baptized, which through God's mercy in Christ, saved , 
him ; and not the outward rite of immersion in water. Now nothing 
is to be found in the second epistle which in any degree qualifies this : 
every word of his latest charge turns upon moral points ; upon growth 
in all Christian graces, on improving to the utmost their knowledge of 
Christ. He speaks, indeed, of some who would soon introduce grievous 
heresies and corruptions of Christianity ; but for himself he has noth- 
ing to add to his former teaching ; he is only anxious that it should be 
remembered, and practically turned to account. 

Christ's beloved disciple ; he who lived so long that some of the 
brethren supposed that he was never to die at all ; he who in an espe- 
cial manner connects the first age of the Church with the second :— do 
his epistles, written evidently late in his life,-^oes his revelation, 
which so emphatically bears the character of a final declaration of God's 
will,^-contain this supposed perfect doctrine of the priesthood and the 
sacraments ? Not one word of either. Written to those who had an 
unction from the Holy One, and knew all things, to the Church of 
Christ, with no distinction of priest and layman, St. John's epistle con- 
tains no new commandment, but the same which the Church had re- 
ceived from the beginning : his gospel is Paul's gospel also ; God's in- 
finite love in Christ, Christ dying for us ; faith working by love ; holi- 
ness being the mark of God's people ; sin the mark of false brethren. 
Of priesthoods, of one body of men ministering grace to the rest 
through certain outward rites which, unless administered by them, lose 
their efficacy, St. John, like St. Peter and St. Paul, says nothing. 
Something, indeed, he does say of the spirit of priestcrafl, in order to 
condemn it ; there was one Diotrephes who loved to exercise authority, 
and to cast out of the Church those of God's people who were strangers 
to his particular portion of it ; and reproved those who knew better the 
largeness of Christian charity. But Diotrephes, the true prototype of 
priestly and fanatical presumption, is condemned by Christ's beloved 
Apostle, as prating against him with malicious words ; as disobeying 
by his bigotry the authority of the loving apostles of Christ Jesus. 

The latest writings, then, of these three great Apostles — Paul, Peter 
and John — contain no traces of any other more mysterious doctrines 
than they had received from our Lord, and taught to their first converts 
at the beginning of the gospel. And the expressions already alluded to 
in the epistle to the Hebrews, like the whole of that epistle, are, in fitct, 
directly opposed to the notion of a more mystical Christianity, which 
was to be the reward of a due improvement of the first principles of 


Christian knowledge already comraunicated. The "perfection" of 
which the writer speaks as opposed to the principles or the elementary 
doctrine of Christ, is an understanding that the law, its priesthood, and 
its sacrifices were no longer necessary, inasmuch as Christ, by his 
eternal priesthood and one sacrifice, had done effectually that work 
which they could but typically foreshadow. It is well known that the 
Jewish Christians still observed the ceremonial law ; and the Apostles 
sanctioned this, not only to avoid unnecessary ofience to the unbelieving 
Jews, but also because the converts themselves would have been 
shocked at the notion of renouncing it. Paul, however, and those who 
followed him, were well aware that this observance of the law was very 
apt to be coupled with a belief of its necessity in a spiritual point of 
view, and therefore they represent the full grown Christian as one who 
feels the unimportance of all Jewish ceremonies, and who places his 
whole reliance upon Christ. " Let us, as many as are perfect," says 
St. Paul to the Philippians, " be thus minded ;" where his meaning is 
exactly the same with that of the epistle to the Hebrews, where he 
speaks of going on unto perfection. So far, then, was the perfection of 
Christian doctrine from consisting in the belief in a human priesthood, 
and in the mystic virtue of outward ordinances, that it was the very op- 
posite of this, and consisted in clearly understanding that Christ's 
death and resurrection had rendered all priesthoods, sacrifices and cere- 
monies, for the time to come, unimportant. It was because this per- 
fection was not generally attained to, because the minds of so many 
Christians could not embrace principles so pure, that the doctrine of 
the priesthood and the sacraments gradually made its way into the 
church, as the natural successor of Judaism. For when the Jewish 
■ temple and sacrifices were destroyed, those Christians who had till 
then regarded them as important parts of Christianity, were naturally 
led to substitute another priesthood and another sacrifice of the same 
sort in the place of those which they had lost : and as they had joined 
the Levitical priesthood with that of Christ, and the daily sacrifices of 
the law with his sacrifice, so afterwards, in the same spirit, they made 
a new priesthood out of the Christian ministry, and a new sacrifice out 
of the communion of the Lord's Supper. 

It may be safely said, that whatever we find in the New Testament, 
as to a gradual communication of Christian truth, relates to this one 
point : that the disciples were to be led on gently to a full sense of the 
unimportance of the ceremonies of the Jewish law. Christianity was 
given complete, as to its own truths, from the beginning of the gospel : 
but the absolute suflSciency of these truths, and the needlessness of any 
other system as joined with them, was to be learned only by degrees ; 


and, unhappily, it nerer was learned fiillj. The perfection of which 
the epistle to the Hebrews speaks as not having been jet reached by 
those to whom the author was writing, was, by the great mass of the 
Church, never reached at all* The errors of the Judaizers continued, 
and assumed a shape far more mischievous ; because the Judaism of the 
succession priesthood, and the sacrifice of the communion, did not, like 
the older Judaism, simply exist by the side of pure Christianity, but in- 
corporated itself with Christianity, and destroyed Christian truths to 
substitute in the place of them its own falsehood. 

Thus, then, as the Scriptures wholly disclaim these notions of a hu* 
man priesthood, and as the perfection of knowledge to which they would 
have us aspire consists in rejecting such notions wholly ; it is strictly 
superfluous to inquire into the opinions of early Christian writers, be* 
cause, if these upheld the doctrine of the priesthood ever so strongly, it 
would but show that the state of mind of which the epistle to the He- 
brews complains, was afterwards more universal and more remote 
from Christian perfection. But it is satisfactory to find that this was 
not so ; that although the germs of the mischief may be here and there 
discernible, yet that the doctrine of the Apostles was in the main faith* 
fully taught by those who, in point of time, came nearest to them ; that 
it needed more than one generation to corrupt so deeply the perfect 
purity of Christian truth. 

When that favourite expression with some, '* the voice of Christian 
antiquity," is analyzed, it appears that, besides the writers of the New 
Testament, the first century and a half of the Christian era produced no 
more than ten writers, or, if wo include Justin Martyr, eleven. These 
were all whom Jerom could discover, although he professes to give a 
complete list of the Christian writers from the earliest times, and even 
swells it with the names of Josepbus, Philo-Judseus, Justus of Tiberias, 
who was also a Jewish writer, and L. Seneca. 

The ten writers of Jerom's list are the following : Barnabas, Her- 
mas, Clemens of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, Quadratus, Aris- 
tides, Agrippa, and Hegesippus. Of this number the works of the five 
last have perished, with the exception of a few passages preserved in 
quotations by other writers. But Quadratus and Aristides were only 
known to Jerom himself as the authors of two apologies in behalf of 
Christianity, addressed to the emperor Hadrian ; and Agrippa's woiks 
were an answer to the heretic Basilides, of which it is not certain that 
it was extant in the time of Jerom. Of Polycarp and Ignatius, Jerom 
knew no other works than those which we still possess under their 
names ; that is, Polycarp's epistle to the Philippians, and the seven 
epistles of Ignatius : 1, to the Ephesians ; 2, to the Magnesians ; 3, to 


the Trallensians ; 4, to the Romans ; 5, to the Philadelphians ; 6, to 
the Smyrnaeans ; 7, to Polycarp. Barnabas, also, and Hermas were 
known to Jerom only by the Epistle of the former, and by the Shep- 
herd of the latter ; both of which we possess. And the only undisputed 
work of Clemens, his epistle to the Corinthians, is also still in exist- 
ence. The only important remains of Christian antiquity which Jerom 
possessed, and which are lost to us, are therefore the Apologies of 
Quadratus and Aristides, the Ecclesiastical History of Hegesippus, and 
Papias's five books, entitled "A setting forth of the Words of the Lord." 
ExOeoig Xdymv Kvglov, 

It is not my present purpose to inquire into the genuineness of the 
epistle of Barnabas, or of the other writings of the so-called Apostolical 
fathers. I am willing for the present to assume that they are genuine, 
because I wish to meet the advocates of the priesthood on their own 
ground ; and I contend that their system can no more be derived from 
the reputed works of the earliest Christian writers, than from the Scrip- 
tures themselves. If there be no works remaining of the Christian 
writers of the first century and a half, it is idle to talk about a tradi- 
tion running back to the very times of the Apostles ; the links of the 
chain are wanting in the very most important part, and the wide gap 
between the Apostles and Justin Martyr must resist every attempt to 
connect the opinipns of the end of the second century with the Chris- 
tianity of the Apostolical age. 

I. The epistle of Barnabas is directed mainly against the notions of 
the Judaizers. The writer is so earnest against the observance of the 
Jewish law by Christians, that he ascribes a figurative and spiritual 
meaning to all those passages in the Old Testament which enjoin the 
several ceremonies of the Jewish ritual. Even circumcision, he con- 
tends, meant the circumcision of the heart, and not the outward rite ; and 
afler stating an objection to this view of it, in the words of a supposed 
opponent, who observes, " that the Jews were circumcised as a seal of 
their covenant," he replies, " But the Syrians and Arabians, and the 
idol priests generally, use circumcision. Are they, also, then partakers 
of God's covenants ?" A writer who would so little admit outward 
ceremonies as an essential part of the Jewish religion, was not likely to 
regard them as essential in Christianity. There is, accordingly, not a 
single word about any Christian ceremonial, whether of temple, priest- 
hood, or oflTering ; he knows nothing of the Eucharist as the unbloody 
sacrifice of the new law, to be oflTered only by the new priesthood ; he 
only knows of the sacrifice once offered by Christ, of the whole Church 
as the spiritual temple of God. It is true he speaks of baptism under 
the name of ** water," and applies it to several passages in the Old 


Testament, which speak of ** streams of water/' ** living springs," dec. 
And from these expressions, it might be supposed that he was laying a 
stress on the outward act of baptism. For instance, the following 
words might be quoted as identlQring baptism with regeneration :— 
'' We go down to the water full of sins and filthiness, and we come up 
with our hearts bringing forth fruit ; having fear and hope towards Je- 
sus through the Spirit." This, and other such passages serve admira- 
bly well, when quoted separately, to make it appear that Barnabas 
held the Judaizing notions of the mystical virtue of the sacraments ; 
but when we compare his strong language, as to the utter worthlessness 
of the outward act of circumcision, and as to the circumcision of the 
heart being the only thing intended by the commandment, it is quite 
clear that, by p ^^ t y qfreas oning. the whole importance of baptism in 
his eyes must have consisted in the real change of heart which it im- 
plied, and the change of life of which it was the beginning ; and that 
the ceremony of baptizing with water was merely a symbol of the great 
and important change which a man underwent in passing from a state 
of heathenism to Christianity. In this sense, baptism, as synonymous 
with an admission to the benefits and promises of the Cliristian Church, 
could not be spoken of too highly ; it was truly the turning point of a 
man's whole existence from evil to good. And in the time of Barna- 
bas, when the real change involved in the act of baptism was so strik- 
ing, and the superstitions connected with it had not as yet had full time 
to grow up, any one might speak of it as Barnabas had spoken, without 
suspecting that his words could be misinterpreted. St. Peter himself 
says, " Baptism does now save us ;" and it seems to me rather an in- 
stance of God's abundant goodness, to hinder the Scriptures from giv- 
ing any countenance to the Judaizing superstitions, than a necessary 
caution on the writer's part to save himself from misinterpretation, 
when he adds expressly, '* not the putting away the filth of the flesh, 
but the answer of a good conscience towards God." 

It should be always remembered, that the superstition of the Juda- 
izers consists not in their reverence for the sacraments, which Christ 
appointed as great instruments of good to his Church ; but in their hav- 
ing drai^Ti oflf men's attention from the important part of both Baptism 
and the Lord's Supper to that which is external : to regard God's grace 
not as conveyed by them morally, because the joining Christ's Church 
in the first instance, and the constantly refreshing our communion with 
it aflerwards, are actions highly beneficial to our moral nature ; but as 
conveyed by them after the manner of a charm, the virtue being com- 
municated by the water and the bread and wine, in consequence of a 
virtue first communicated to them by certain words of consecration pro- 


nounced by a prie>t. It is the famous " accedit verbum ad elementum 
et fit sacramentum," which contains the essence of the unchristian and 
most mischievous view of the sacraments entertained by the Romish 
and Anglican popery. And, in order to show that the early Christian 
writers favour this notion, it is not enough to show that they speak 
strongly of the benefits of the sacraments ; for in this the Scriptures 
and almost all true Christians would agree with them : but it must far* 
ther be made evident that they lay the stress on the virtue communicated 
by the outward elements, after those elements have been first conse- 
crated by certain formal words repeated by a priest. Unless they can 
be proved to hold this, we may interpret their language rather as 
l^^^j agreeing with that of Christ and his apostles, than as countenancing 
the superstition of the Judaizers. 

From the epistle of Barnabas, I pass to that of Clemens Romanus. 

II. There is nothing in Clemens, either on the subject of Baptism 
or of the Lord's Supper, or of a priesthood. But there are one or two 
passages which have been often quoted as asserting what is called 
apostolical succession ; and these, therefore, it will be proper to exam- 
ine. As before, in the case of the epistle of Barnabas, I am assuming 
the genuineness of the epistle of Clemens, and also its freedom from 

It is difficult, unfortunately, notwithstanding the length of this work* 
to learn from it with any clearness the exact nature of the circumstances 
to which it refers. It complains, indeed, largely of the mischiefs of 
quarreling and pride ; but it does not state what was the occasion of 
quarrel, nor what were the views and objects of the party which dis- 
turbed the peace of the church. They are spoken of as a " few," 
dXlya 7tQ6(T(07ia ; and they are blamed as " lifting themselves up over 
Christ's flock," inaiqpnho}v ml t6 nolfiviov toxi Xqiutov^ at the same 
time that they were disparaging the authority of the lawful elders of 
the Church. Some of the elders had been actually displaced, and for 
no fault of theirs ; and those through whom they had been expelled had 
gained a great authority in their room. These last Clemens exhorts to 
give up their power, to do the bidding of the congregation, xd nqoaraGm 
adfieva ind 7ov Ttli^iOovg, and to imitate the example of many worthy 
kings and rulers of the Gentiles, who had left their own countries, ra- 
ther than be the occasion of contention or civil war. 

All this is to us exceedingly vague, it reminds us something of the 
tyrants of the old Greek commonwealths, establishing themselves on the 
overthrow of the old aristocracies. It bears some resemblance to the 
picture drawn by St. Paul of his Judaizing opponents in this very 
church of Corinth, who depreciated or denied his authority, and tram- 


pled themselves upon the mass of the congregation with the utmost in- 
solence, II. Corinth, xi. 20. It would perfectly suit an attempt made 
on tho part of one or two ambitious individuals to establish the despo- 
tism of a single bishop, instead of the mild authority of the whple body 
of ciders : for certain it is that Clement, like St. Paul, recognises no 
one bishop, in the later sense of the term, as ruling the church of Co- 
rinth ; the govomment is vested in a certain number of bishops or el- 
ders, called indifferently by either name, who, together with the infe- 
rior ministers, didKovoiy or in the language of the Athenian constitution, 
iSrrif^eTttt, constitute all the officers of tho Christian society. 

With this uncertainty as to tho precise nature of the disturbance in 
the Corinthian church, wo cannot tell with what extent or with what 
limits to understand the particular passage of Clement's epistle, which 
is supposed to uphold the doctrine of the so-called apostolical succes- 
sion. He refers to the minute rules of the Jewish Church ; to its di- 
vision of offices, and its stated seasons and places of worship ; and he 
infers from this, that each man in the Christian Church should keep 
his own station and order with equal strictness. The Apostles, ho says, 
appointed everywhere the first bishops and deacons, Imaxd.tovg xal 
diuxAvovg^ in the several churches which they founded. They wished 
to obviate disputes about the government, and therefore they not only 
appointed the first bishops and deacons, but also appointed a succes- 
sion, imrouifiVj that when the first bishops were dead, other tried men 
should succeed to their office. " Those, then," proceeds Clement, 
" who were appointed by tho Apostles, or afterwards, fteja^v, by other 
tried and approved men, Moyluoiv, with the consent of the whole 
church ; those who ministered unblamably to Christ's flock with humi- 
lity, gently, and in no spirit of sordid gain, CuSavaiGfag^ and whose worth 
has many times been attested by the whole Church, these we think 
are not justly expelled from their ministry ; for it will be no small sin 
to us, if they who unblamably and holily offered their gifts to God, be 
cast out from their bishoprics." Such is the famous passage in which 
Clement is supposed to maintain the indefeasible right of bishops ap- 
pointed by apostolical succession to exercise government over the 
Church for ever. 

It is manifest, in the first place, that Clement's words are not gene- 
ral and prospective, but had reference to a particular case actually be- 
fore him. lie was thinking of something present and special, and had 
evidently no thought of laying down a general law for all times and 
places. Now, I am very far from saying that the words of a wise man, 
on a particular case, cannot contain any truth of general application ; of 
course they can and generally do : but as he did not utter them as ge- 


neral, their bearing on any universal truth is indirect rather than di' 
rect ; that is, we may conclude that he would have applied them gene- 
rally, so far as the particular case before him was a faithful representa- 
tive of all future cases ; but if it differed in any remarkable points from 
future cases, then we have no right to make them general ; in other 
words, we have no right to make him draw the same conclusion, where 
the premises are manifestly different. 

Now the premises in Clement's case lead justly enough, assuming 
them for the present to be true in fact, to his conclusion. Good elders 
appointed by worthy men, who had themselves been appointed by the 
Apostles, appointed with the consent of the whole church, whose worth 
the whole church had oflen attested, and who had discharged their mi- 
nistry unblamably, gently, and uncorruptly, ought not to be deprived of 
their office. I am not aware that the strongest opponent of priestly ty- 
ranny would refuse his hearty assent to this proposition of Clement. 

But now, instead of Clement's own premises let us substitute others. 
** Bad and foolish elders, appointed by others neither wiser nor better, 
which others derived their own appointment from no purer source — 
proud and foolish elders, in whoso appointment the whole church had 
had no voice at all, nor had ever attested their worth, but felt their evil — 
elders who had discharged their office offensively, arrogantly, rapa- 
ciously," — shall there be no power in the church to deprive such of 
their office, and to commit the power which they abuse, and have long 
abused, to other hands ? Or, is Clement's conclusion still to hold, al« 
though of the premises from which he derived it, there is not left in this 
new case a single one remaining ? 

It must not be denied, however, that a comparison which Clement uses 
in this part of his e[iistle, may seem to imply that he regarded the govern- 
ment of the Church as a thing fixed once for all, and not to be altered un- 
der any circumstances. He refers to the selection of the family of Aaron 
to hold the priest's office, as a parallel case to the appointment of the 
first bishops by the Apostles ; and as the priesthood remained in 
Aaron's family to the end of the Jewish dispensation, without any re- 
ference to the worthiness of the individuals of that family in any one ge- 
neration, so it might be argued that, in Clement's notions, the personal 
worthiness or unworthiness of the individual bishops had nothing to do 
with the question ; their right to govern the Church was derived solely 
from their Apostolical succession. 

Now if Clement had been arguing in the abstract against the right 
of deposing any bishop or elder, and had then referred to the law of 
the Jewish priesthood, there could have been no doubt as to his mean- 
Dg. But this b precisely one of those points in which the particular 


occasion of his argument makes his meaning, as to the general appli. 
cability of his comparison, doubtful. If he felt that bishops or ciders 
had been iactiously and unjustly deposed, when they had been appoint- 
ed to their office either immediately by the Apostles, or at only one 
remove, by those who had themselves received their office from the 
Apostles, the deposition of such men so appointed could not but seem 
to him an interference with a divine authority ; and he would have looked 
upon their power, so unjustly assailed, as resting on God's ordinance, 
as much as the exclusive possession of the priesthood by the family of 

But it is impossible to argue justly from this passage, that if Cle- 
ment had lived fifteen or sixteen centuries later, and had seen the 
bishops of the Church in a wholly diflercnt position from that of the. 
bishops of the church of Corinth, he would have equally maintained- 
their indefeaslbility, and considered the Lcvitical priesthood an exactly 
parallel case. For the continuance of the priesthood in the same &mi- 
ly was not a consequence simply of the original divine appointment of 
Aaron, but followed from the universal notion of the eastern world, and 
of much of the western, that priesthoods must be hereditary. God ap- 
pointed Moses to be the prophet and ruler of his people, and Moses 
after him appointed Joshua ; but the divine appointment went no far- 
ther, because the prophets' and judges' oflices were not necessarily to 
depend upon succession, and the Israelites were not bound to choose 
for their judges the posterity of cither Moses or Joshua. Now the 
Christian ministry would Uiidoubtedly resemble the judges and prophets 
of the Isnielites rather than their pric-jts: and therefore an original 
divine appointment would not imply the necessity of a perpetual succes- 
sion. Tlie succession here would, as to its divine authority, die out 
naturally in the course of time, just as the Roman lawyers held that 
collateral consanguinity expired in the eighth generation ; it being im- 
possible to suppose that the virtue of the original descent from a com- 
mon ancestor could exist beyond that period. Thus, the ciders appoint- 
ed immediately or at one or two removes, by the Apostles, might truly 
be said to hold their oflices, like Joshuii, by divine appointment; and 
they might as truly be said to have been chosen by Go<l, as Aaron was 
chosen to be the priest, rather than a man of any other family or any 
other tribe. And the reason why the succession was not to be porpe- 
tual in the case of the judge of Israel and the Christian bishops was 
this, that unless each generation was as highly gifted by God as Moses 
and Joshua, or as the Christian Apostles, the wisdom of their original 
choice of successors would be impaired continually by fresh mixtures of 
human folly or passion ; so that, as in the case of collateral consan- 



neral, their bearing on anjr universal truth is indirect rather than di- 
rect ; that is, we may conclude that he would have applied them gene- 
rally, so far as the particular case before him %vaa a iaithful representa- 
tive of all future cases ; but if it differed in any remarkable points from 
future cases, then we have no right to make them general ; in other 
word^, we have no right to make him draw the same conclusion, where 
the premises are manifestly different* 

Now the premises in Clement's case lead justly enough, assuming 
Ihem for the present to he true in fact, to his conclusion. Good cldera 
appointed hy worthy men, who had themselves been appointed by the 
Apostles, appointed with the consent of the whole church, whose worth 
the whole church had often attested, and who had discharged their mi- 
nistry unblamably, gently, and uncorruptly, ought not to be deprived of 
their office. I am not aware that the strongest opponent of priestly ty. 
ran ny would refuse his hearty assent to this proposition of Clement, 

But now, instead of Clement's own premises let us substitute others, 
•*Bad and Iboiish elders, appointed by others neither wiser nor better, 
which others derived their own appointment from no purer source — 
proud and foolish elders, in whose appointment the whole church bad 
had no voice at all, nor had ever attested their worth, but felt their c^il — 
elders who had discharged their office otfensively, arrogantly, rapa- 
ciously," — shall there be no power in the church to deprive such of 
their office, and to commit the power which they abuse, and have long 
abused, to other hands ? Or, is Clement's conclusion still to hold, al* 
though of the premises from which he derived it, there is not left in thia 
new case a single one remaining 1 

It must not be denied, how^ever, that a comparison which Clement usen 
in this part of his e(iistle, may seem to imply that he regarded the govern* 
ment of the Church as a thing ffied once for all, and not to be altered un- 
der any circumstances. He refers to the selection of the family of Aaron 
to hold the priest ""s office, as a parallel case to the appointment of the 
first bishops by the Apostles ; and as the priesthood remained in 
Aaron*s family to the end of the Jewish dispensation, without any re- 
ference to the M^orlhiness of the individuals of that family in any one ge- 
neration, so it might be argued that, in Clement's notions, the personal 
worthiness or un worthiness of the individual bishops had nothing to do 
with the question ; their right to govern the Church was derived solely 
from their Apostolical succession. 

Now if Clement had been arguing in the abstract against the right 
of deposing any bishop or elder, and had then referred to the law of 
the Jewish priesthood, there could have been no doubt as to his mean- 
ng. But this is precisely one of those points in which the particular 


occasion of his argument makes his meaning, as to the general appli* 
cability of his comparison, doubtful. If ho felt that bishops or elders 
had been factiouslj and unjustlj deposed, when thej had been appoint- 
ed to their office either immediately by the Apostles, or at only one 
remove, by those who had themselves received their office from the 
Apostles, the deposition of such men so appointed could not but seem 
to him an interference with a divine authority ; and he would have looked 
upon their power, so unjustly assailed, as resting on God's ordinance, 
as much as the exclusive possession of the priesthood by the family of 

But it is impossible to argue justly from this passage, that if Cle- 
ment had lived fifteen or sixteen centuries later, and had seen the 
bishops of the Church in a wholly different position from that of the 
bishops of the church of Corinth, he would have equally maintained 
their indefeasibility, and considered the Levitical priesthood an exactly, 
parallel case. For the continuance of the priesthood in the same fami* 
ly was not a consequence simply of the original divine appointment of 
Aaron, but followed from the universal notion of the eastern world, and 
of much of the western, that priesthoods must be hereditary. God ap* 
pointed Moses to be the prophet and ruler of his people, and Moses 
after him appointed Joshua ; but the divine appointment went no far- 
ther, because the prophets' and judges' offices were not necessarily to 
depend upon succession, and the Israelites were not bound to choose 
for their judges the posterity of either Moses or Joshua. Now the 
Christian ministry would undoubtedly resemble the judges and prophets 
of the Israelites rather than their priests; and therefore an original 
divine appointment would not imply the necessity of a perpetual succos- 
lion. The succession here would, as to its divine authority, die out 
naturally in the course of time, just as the Roman lawyers held that 
collateral consanguinity expired in the eighth generation ; it being im- 
possible to suppose that the virtue of the original descent from a com- 
mon ancestor could exist beyond that period. Thus, the ciders appoint- 
ed immediately or at one or two removes, by the Apostles, might truly 
be said to hold their offices, like Joshua, by divine appointment ; and 
they might as truly bo said to have been chosen by God, as Aaron was 
chosen to be the priest, rather than a man of any other family or any 
other tribe. And the reason why the succession was not to be perpe- 
tual in the case of the judge of Israel and the Christian bishops was 
this, that unless each generation was as highly gifted by God as Moses 
and Joshua, or as the Christian Apostles, the wisdom of their original 
choice of successors would be impaired continually by fresh mixtures of 
human folly or passion ; so that, as in the case of collateral consan- 


guinity, all its virtue must necessarily be lost after the lapse of a cer- 
tain interval of time. This is the plain analogy and reason which 
makes it probable that Clement would not have considered any bishops 
of the Church, after the lapse of a century, to be the successors of the 
Apostles, except so far as they resembled them in their lives and doc- 

Nothing is less satisfactory than an argumentum ad hominem ; and 
therefore I have chosen to consider this passage of Clement with a 
view simply to the truth of the case, and not merely to the silencing or 
embarrassing an adversary. Otherwise it is most true that the actual 
episcopacy of the Christian Church, for many centuries, can derive no 
support from the epistle of Clement. An aristocracy and a monarchy 
arc not so precisely identical that the government of a single bishop 
can claim to be of divine authority, because the Apostles appointed in 
each church a certain number of bishops or elders. Nor can it be 
showii that if the ordination by bishops, one or more, be necessary, the 
consent of the whole church, which was no less a part of the primitive 
appointments, may be laid aside, as a thing wholly indifferent. But it 
is a poor triumph merely to expose an opponent's inconsistencies : it is 
far better to show simply that Clement's words — 1, grew out of a parti- 
cular occasion ; 2, that the bishops to w^hose deposition he objected were 
good men, who had discharged their office well, and who had been ap- 
pointed with the consent of the whole church ; 3, that they were really 
and bona fide the Apostles' successors, being no farther removed from 
them than the virtue of the Apostles' original choice might fairly be 
supposed to reach ; 4, that the virtue of that choice necessarily dying 
out in time, it can never be proved that he who upheld its authority 
when it really existed, would therefore imagine it to exist when it was 
really lost ; and 5, that the cases of Moses and Joshua, and the essen- 
tial difference between a priesthood and an office of prophet or ruler, 
make it clear that indefeasible succession does not flow from an origi- 
nal divine appointment in the latter case, because it accompanied it in 
the foi-mer. 

Finally, it must be remembered that Clement speaks of the Christian 
ministers as bishops and ciders, not as priests. It is not a little curious 
that, just at that period when the notion of original Apostolical appoint- 
ment could no longer be applied to make out a virtual succession for 
the Christian ministers as prophets or rulers, their office began to be 
represented as a priesthood ; that so the succession which was inappli- 
cable to them in their real character, might be claimed for them under 
this new and unchristian title. 

III. The "Shepherd" of Hermas contains no mention of the Lord's 


Supper, nor of a priesthood, nor of a succession of ministers, nor of a 
mystical virtue communicated to the elements in the sacraments by a 
certain form of words. Baptism, as the admission into the Christian 
Church, and as equivalent to the obtaining a knowledge of Christ, is 
indeed strongly insisted on in a remarkable passage, in which Hermas 
says that the Apostles afler their deaths went down into the place of 
the dead, and preached there to the good men of former ages, and 
taught them the name of the Lord Jesus, and baptized them; and that 
then, having received the seal of the Son of God, they arose perfect 
and fit for God's kingdom. " For," says Hermas, " they had died full 
of righteousness, and in a state of great purity, only they had not re- 
ceived this seal." I am far from saying that there is not some super- 
stition involved in this ; but still the notion is, that the knowledge of 
the name of Christ was necessary, the seal of which is baptism : the 
stress is laid on the knowing Christ, and belonging to his Church, not 
on the mere outward rite of baptizing by water. 

IV. The pure and simple epistle of Polycarp is as free from all taint 
of the corrupt doctrine of a priesthood, and the mystical virtue of the 
sacraments as those of the Apostles themselves. He dwells on the re- 
lative duties of the several members of the Christian Church, and calls 
upon the younger men to abstain from all evil lusts, and to be subject 
to their elders and deacons as unto God and Christ. So St. Paul had^ 
desired slaves to obey their masters, and wives to be subject to theirj 
own husbands, as unto the Lord. But this is very different from thel 
exaggerated language of Ignatius, and the pretended Apostolical con-| 
stitutions ; and the obedience to the elders and deacons is clearly con- 
nected, in Polycarp's mind, with the obedience to the law of Christ 
which they taught, as opposed to the evil lusts from which he wishes 
all Christian people to turn aside. 

V. The epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, assuming as before its 
genuineness, and not entering into the question whether the longer or 
the shorter version of it be the original, contains nothing that bears di- 
rectly on our present subject. One passage, however, may be noticed, 
as showing that Ignatius understood aright tlie language of our Lord 
recorded in John vi., respecting the eating his flesh, and the drink- 
ing his blood. " I have no pleasure," says Ignatius, " in corruptible 
food, nor in this life's pleasures : my wish is for the bread of God, the 
bread of heaven, the bread of life, that is, the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son 
of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and of Abraham. 
And the drink which I desire is his blood, which 'is love incorruptible 
and life eternal." 

Now it should be remembered that Ignatius, in the whole of this 


giiinity, all its virtue must necessarily be lost after the lapse of a cer- 
tain interval of time. This is the plain analogy and reason which 
makes it probable that Clement would not have considered any bishops 
of the Church, after the lapse of a century, to be the successors of the 
Apostles, except so far as they resembled them in their lives and doc- 

Nothing is less satisfactory than an argumentum ad hominem ; and 
therefore I have chosen to consider this passage of Clement with a 
view simply to the truth of the case, and not merely to the silencing or 
embarrassing an adversary. Otherwise it is most true that the actual 
episcopacy of the Christian Church, for many centuries, can derive no 
support from the epistle of Clement. An aristocracy and a monarchy 
are not so precisely identical that the government of a single bishop 
can claim to be of divine authority, because the Apostles appointed in 
each church a certain number of bishops or elders. Nor can it be 
shown that if the ordination by bishops, one or more, be necessary, the 
consent of the whole church, which was no less a part of the primitive 
appointments, may bo laid aside, as a thing wholly indifferent. But it 
is a poor triumph merely to expose an opponent's inconsistencies : it is 
far better to show simply that Clement's words — 1, grew out of a parti- 
cular occasion ; 2, that the bishops to whose deposition he objected were 
good men, who had discharged their office well, and who had been ap- 
pointed with the consent of the whole church ; 3, that they were really 
and bona fide the Apostles' successors, being no farther removed from 
them than the virtue of the Apostles' original choice might fairly be 
supposed to reach ; 4, that the virtue of that choice necessarily dying 
out in time, it can never be proved that he who upheld its authority 
when it really existed, would therefore imagine it to exist when it was 
really lost ; and 5, that the cases of Moses and Joshua, and the essen- 
tial difference between a priesthood and an office of prophet or ruler, 
make it clear that indefeasible succession does not flow from an origi- 
nal divine appointment in the latter case, because it accompanied it in 
the former. 

Finally, it must be remembered that Clement speaks of the Christian 
ministers as bishops and elders, not as priests. It is not a little curious 
that, just at that period when the notion of original Apostolical appoint- 
ment could no longer be applied to make out a virtual succession for 
the Christian ministers as prophets or rulers, their office began to be 
represented as a priesthood ; that so the succession which was inappli- 
cable to them in their real character, might be claimed for them under 
this new and unchristian title. 

III. The "Shepherd" of Hermas contains no mention of the Lord's 


Supper, nor of a priesthood, nor of a succession of ministers, nor of a 
mystical virtue communicated to the elements in the sacraments by a 
certain form of words. B aptism, as the admission into the Christian 
Church, and as equivalent to the obtaining a knowledge of Christ, is 
indeed strongly insisted on in a remarkable passage, in which Hermas 
says that the Apostles after their deaths went down into the place of 
the dead, and preached there to the good men of former ages, and 
taught them the name of the Lord Jesus, and baptized them; and that 
then, having received the seal of the Son of God, they arose perfect 
and fit for God's kingdom. " For," says Hermas, " they had died full 
of righteousness, and in a state of great purity, only they had not re- 
ceived this seal." I am far from saying that there is not some super- 
stition involved in this ; but still the notion is, that the knowledge of 
the name of Christ was necessary, the seal of which is baptism : the 
stress is laid on the knowing Christ, and belonging to his Church, not 
on the mere outward rite of baptizing by water. 

IV. The pure and simple epistle of Polycarp is as free from all taint 
of the corrupt doctrine of a priesthood, and the mystical virtue of the 
sacraments as those of the Apostles themselves. He dwells on the re- 
lative duties of the several members of the Christian Church, and calls 
upon the younger men to abstain from all evil lusts, and to be subject 
to their elders and deacons as unto God and Christ. So St. Paul had> 
desired slaves to obey their masters, and wives to be subject to their j 
own husbands, as unto the Lord. But this is very different from the] 
exaggerated language of Ignatius, and the pretended Apostolical con-| 
stitutions ; and the obedience to the elders and deacons is clearly con- 
nected, in Polycarp's mind, with the obedience to the law of Christ 
which they taught, as opposed to the evil lusts from which he wishes 
all Christian people to turn aside. 

V. The epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, assuming as before its 
genuineness, and not entering into the question whether the longer or 
the shorter version of it be the original, contains nothing that bears di- 
rectly on our present subject. One passage, however, may be noticed, 
as showing that Ignatius understood aright the language of our Lord 
recorded in John vi., respecting the eating his flesh, and the drink- 
ing his blood. " I have no pleasure," says Ignatius, " in corruptible 
food, nor in this life's pleasures : my wish is for the bread of God, the 
bread of heaven, the bread of life, that is, the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son 
of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and of Abraham. 
And the drink which I desire is his blood, which 'is love incorruptible 
and life eternal." 

Now it should be remembered that Ignatius, in the whole of this 


THfi eHmcn. 

epistle, is breath ipg an earnest desire for niorlyrdom. He is iropaticnl 
to arrive at Rome that he may be torn to pieces by the wild beasts, and 
so may be for ever wifh Christ. It is impossible then that he can 
have Ihuught of thr communion of the Lord's Supper, when he speaks of 
the body and blood of Christ ; he speaks rather of that perfect conimn- 
nion with Christ in heaven, of which the Lord's Supper was intended, 
amongst other things, to be the symboL 

It has been one of the most pernicious of all corruptions of Scripture, 
to understand certain passages as referring to the sacraments, which re- 
fer really to those things of which the sacraments are the signs. They 
are therefore coordinate with iho sacraments, pointing in word, as the 
fiacraments do in emblematic action, to the same reality; but not sub- 
ordinate to the sacraments, nor by any means pointing to them as to 
the reality, which is something distinct from them and above them. 

When our Lord declares, ** Whoso eatcth my Iksh and drinketh my 
blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day ; for my 
flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed," it is evident that 
hero is the self-same tmth conlemplaled which our Lord had also in 
view when he said, "Take eat, this is my body :" and, ** Drink ye all 
of this, for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for 
many for the remission of sins." There is the self-same truth contem- 
plated, namely, that the closest possible communion of the soul with 
.Christ, and the making him, in all his various relations of Prophet, 
[King, Saviour, and Lord, the souVs daily food, was essential to man's 
salvation. This great truth our Lord expressed, according to bis usual 
manner, in figurative words ; he exprcsaed it also in figurative action. 
He not only siiid, " My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink in- 
deed," but he embodied the words in action ; he commanded us to eat 
as it were his flesh, and to drink his blood, in the bread and wine of the 
Lord's Supper. But to suppose that the stress was laid on the literal 
eating of the bread and drinking of the cup, that by that figurative act 
Ihe great moral reality which it imaged forth symbolically would be ip- 
so facto attained, is a misrepresentation precisely of (he game kind as 
'diat which ho so strongly condemns in his disciples, when they under* 
atood his words, to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, as a charge 
to beware literally of a particular sort of breads 

Thus again, the summary of the tenth chapter of tho first epistle to 
the Corinthians, as given in our English Bibles, runs thus: ** The 
Jews' sacraments types of ours.'' Here is the self-same error, of 
making the outward rites or facts of the Jewish religion subordinate to 
the outward rites of ours, instead of regarding them both as coordinate 
wUh one anotjier, and tubordinate to some spiritual reality, of wkich 


both alike are but signs. In the passage referred to, St Paul is show- 
ing that outward rites are no security for the existende of the real thing 
which thej tjpify. Christians have been baptized with water, as an 
introduction into Christ's service ; the Israelites passed through water 
also, as an introduction to their becoming God's people and receiving 
his law. Christians eat bread and drink wine, in token of their being 
united to their Lord and Saviour ; and so the Israelites ate manna and 
drank of the rock, that manna and rock representing Christ their Lord, 
who was with them on all their way, just as the bread and the wine of 
the Lord's Supper represent him now. But Jsrael, notwithstanding 
these outward tokens of their belonging to God and depending on him, 
sinned and fell ; and notwithstanding our outward tokens, the same 
may be our case if we are not watchful. It is altering the whole 
scope of the passage to say that it represents the Jews' sacraments as 
types of ours ; as if our sacraments, any more than theirs, were neces- 
sarily or in themselves a reality. The drift of the passage is not to 
magnify the sacraments, but to prevent us from superstitiously 
trusting to them. The Jews had their sacraments, as we have ours, 
and both are t3rpes of the same thing ; but the type in their case did 
not prevent them from forfeiting the substance, neither will it in ours. 

So again, when St. John records so earnestly his beholding the 
blood and water flowing out from Christ's side, and when in his epistle, 
in manifest allusion to the same thing, he says, *' This is he who came 
by water and blood, even Jesus Christ ; not by water only, but by wa- 
ter and blood :" it makes the whole diflerence between Christianity and 
the great corruption of it, whether we understand these words as coor^ 
dineUe with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, or as subordinate to them ; 
whether we say that they refer to the two sacraments, or that they refer 
to those great truths which the two sacraments also were designed to 
image forth in emblematic action ; that repentance towards God, and 
faith in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are the sum and substance 
of Christianity. 

Finally, the memorable words of our Lord himself to Nicodemusi 
" Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 
the kingdom of God," contain, perhaps, the same figure in words that 
Baptism contains in action, although even this is not certain, but are 
not meant to refer to the outward rite of Baptism as the thing indispenS' 
able. They are coordinate with Baptism, it may be, but not subordi- 
nate to it. The same obvious reason which led the Jews, in common 
with many other people, to adopt the right of washing the body as sym- 
bolical of the washing or cleansing of the soul from sin, led our Lord 
to express this cleansing of the soul by the ^rm *' water." A man 


must repent of his past evil life, and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit 
to enable him for the future to lead a new life, before he can enter into the 
kingdom of heaven. And if I am asked why I do not take the word 
"water" literally, according to Hooker's canon of criticism, when he 
says that " in the interpretation of Holy Scripture, that sense which is 
nearest the letter is commonly the safest," I answer, that such a canon, 
as applied to a collection of works, so dilfferent in point of style as 
those of the Scriptures, is at once ridiculous. In the simple narratives 
of the historical books, Hooker's rule will hold ; in the prophetical and 
poetical books, it would be the very worst rule that we could follow. 
Now, our Lord's discourses, as recorded by St. John, are eminently 
parabolical ; his language, both when speaking to the Jews and to his 
own disciples, is continually figurative. Hence the mingled surprise 
and pleasure of his disciples, when, towards the close of his last conver- 
sation with them, he dropped his usual style, and expressed himself 
without any figure. " Lo ! now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no 
proverb." He spake of water to the woman of Samaria, and she adopting 
Hooker's rule, understood him literally : " Lord, give me this water, 
that I thirst not neither come hither to draw." Was this, indeed, the 
true sense of his words ; or was it so utterly mistaken as to lead to the 
extreme of folly and profaneness ? And yet, some think, that to inter- 
pret in a similar manner his words to Nicodemus is neither foolish nor 
profane, but rather that to interpret them otherwise is to explain away 
the words of Scripture ! Explaining away the words of Scripture ! 
when we make them refer to something spiritual and not bodily ; to a 
reality, not to a symbol ; to a moral act, not to a ceremony ! 

But why should we scruple to understand our Lord's words of wa- 
ter, literally, when we know that he did on one occasion tell a blind 
man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam ; and that the man went, 
and washed, and came seeing? This, too, is one of Hooker's compari- 
sons, in that same fifth book of his Ecclesiastical Polity from which so 
many unwise and unfair arguments have been quoted as the words of 
impartiality and wisdom. Is it in the slightest degree a parallel case, 
that because a bodily application was prescribed as a cure for a bodily 
disease, it should therefore cure a disease of the soul ? It is idle to say 
that we do not understand the laws of body and spirit, and that God can 
aflfect both our bodies and spirits by whatever kind of instruments he 
chooses. The argument from human ignorance, most just and useful 
within certain limits, is by fanatics often used so awkwardly as to lead 
to the conclusions of the wildest scepticism. It is true that we under- 
stand very little of the laws of body and spirit, still the very notions of 
body and spirit imply amvide difference between them ; and so far as 


we do know or understand of either, our knowledge is derired from dif- 
ferent sciences, and we find them to be subjected to difierent laws. If 
there is no truth in all this ; if wo do not know enough to warrant us in 
saying that wisdom is not to be gained by bodily exercise, nor charity, 
by eating any particular kind of food, then we have no grounds for 
knowing or believing anything ; least of all can we think that we are 
living in the world of the God of truth and love, if we have no grasp 
upon truth whatsoever, and have no means by which we may reasona- 
bly assure ourselves even that God is. 

But not to wander into any more remote inquiry, it is sufficient for 
the present to say that the Scriptures fully recognise the authority of 
what may be called our common-sense notions of good and evil, of rea- 
sonableness and absurdity. And when fanaticism, striving to render 
all truth uncertain, that so its own falsehoods may have the better 
chance of being received, and pushing to extravagance the famous sen- 
timent of Pascal, "La raison confond les dogmatistes," would cndea- 
vour to persuade us, that we can have no sure reliance either on the 
evidence of our senses or of our reason, that we do not know what is or 
what is not ; our answer will be, that our convictions do not rest on 
any fond presumption as to our own power of discerning truth, but on 
our faith that God will not suflTer us to be deceived by trusting to his 
appointed witnesses. Truth in itself we have, it may be, no powe> to 
grasp : it may be possible, if you will, that in another state of being, 
the surest conclusions of our senses and of our reason may be found to 
have been abstractedly erroneous. But in the meanwhile, in this our 
present state of being, they are true to us ; they are the language to 
which God has adapted our present nature. By distrusting it, we shall 
disobey him and be lost in endless error ; by believing it, we shall re- 
sign ourselves to his guidance, and shall attain, if not truth in itself, yet 
that only image of truth of which we are capable here, and by which 
alone we can be made capable of arriving at real truth hereafter. It is 
not rationalism, then, but reason resting on faith, which assures us of the 
utter incapability of any outward bodily action to produce in us in an in- 
ward spiritual effect. 

1. Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians. — ^In this epistle, we find a 
marked distinction between the bishop or superintendent, inlaxonoi^ 
and TTQBo^viigtoy^ or the body of elders ; whereas, in Clement's epistle, as 
well as in those of St. Paul, inlaxonog and nqBo^vuqog are synonymous 
terms. There are also several passages, enjoining obedience to the 
bishop and to the body of elders ; and in one place Ignatius says, " Ye 
should regard your bishop as the Lord himselfl" Ignat. ad Ephes. vi. 
But our Lord had said to his disciples, " He |hat receiveth you re- 


ceivctb me;^' and St Paul had said, even with regard to the Heathen 
magistracies, " Whosoever resistelh the power resisteth the ordinance 
of God,** Stp Paul, also, as we have seen, enjoins Christians no less 
earnestly to obey those who were set over them ; and that Christianity 
recognises a power of government in the Church, and requires of 
all individual Christians that they should be obedient to those invest* 
ed with this government, we have already shown at large. Bnt 
government is not priesthood, and neither these passages of Ignaliutt 
nor those quoted before from St, Paul, contain one word to show that 
the bishops and elders of the Christian Church were priests as well as 

It may be worth our while, however, to see what it was which in- 
duced Ignatius thus strongly to urge the duly of obedience to the bishop 
and the elders ; because, if we ynderstand this rightly, w^e shall find 
much excuse, at any rate, for certain strong expressions, which other- 
wise, taken apart from the context, and as meant merely to convey a 
high notion of the episcopal dignity, breathe a language very ditforent 
from that of St, Peter and St. Paul. Every great reform which has 
taken place in human society has contained, among its nominal advo* 
eates, men who are morally the extreme opposite s of each other ; some 
being the very best and noblest of their kind, and others the vilest. 
And it is these last who explain the otherwise monstrous fact, that among 
the opponents of every reform, there are to be tound also, along with 
the lowest and most wicked of mankind, Bome few of the loftiest and 
the purest; men who look at the evil supporters of the retorm, and for 
their sakes dread it and abhor it. Now even Christianity itself shared 
this common lot of all great moral clianges ; perfect as it was in itself, 
its nominal adherents were often neither wise nor good, but took part 
with it for its negative side, not for its positive : advocating it so far as 
it destroyed what was already in existence, but having no sympathy 
wnth that better state of things which it proposed to set up in the room 
of the old. For when the C^hurcb began to show its wide range of ac- 
tion, and its singular efficacy, all who longed to see the existing sys* 
tem overthrown, rallied themselves rgund its assailant. Here they 
thought, w^as a power which they could use for the accomplishment of 
their purpose ; when this should have first cleared the ground of the 
thickets which encumbered it, it would be for them to sow in the va* 
cant soil their own favourite seed. 

Now, let any one who knows what the Roman empire was in the 
first century of the Christian era, imagine to himself Ihe monstrous 
forms of opinion and practice which a state of society so diseased 
couM not fail to enge^en All varieties of ancient and foreign super* 


fltition existed, together with the worst extremity of unprincipled scep- 
ticism ; while in practice the unequalled barbarism of the ruder pro- 
vinces, and the selfish cruelty fostered by long and bloody civil wars, had 
provided a fearful mass of the fiercer passions ; and the unrestrained 
dissoluteness of a thoroughly corrupt society was a source no less abun- 
dant of everything most shameless in sensuality. These seemingly in- 
congruous evils, superstition and scepticism, ferocity and sensual profli- 
gacy, when, from any particular circumstances, they turned against the 
monster society which had bred them, and began to seek its destruction, 
often sheltered themselves under the name of Christianity, and were the 
heresies of the first age of the Christian Church. 

That this was so would be, I think, sufficiently proved by that well- 
known passage of Tacitus in which he describes the Christians as 
" per flagitia invisos," and their system as one amongst things '* atro- 
cia et pudenda." Tac. Ann. xv. 44. We know full well that Tacitus 
would not have applied such language to true Christians, and to true 
Christianity. We know that no wise and good heathen ever did apply 
such terms to either. But Tacitus's testimony, and the very fact itself 
that the Christian name was generally odious, as connected with all 
manner of wickedness, are quite sufficient to prove that there were 
nominal Christians, whose rites and whose practices were at once li- 
centious and dangerous to public order ; who formed a secret society, 
fraught with mischief to the morals of individuals, no less than to the 
tranquility of the state. 

We are not lefl, however, to the mere testimony of Tacitus ; the 
highest Christian authorities confirm the same thing. These combin- 
ed features, sensual profligacy and lawless turbulence, appear exactly 
in the portraits of the heretical Christians drawn by St. Jude, and by 
St. Peter in his second epistle. Nor does the disputed genuineness of 
these two writings aflfect the question, for whether written by Apostles 
or no, it has never been doubted that they are the works of Christians 
in the first century ; and that is sufficient for our purpose. The ac- 
count given by Eusobius of the gross licentiousness o£ the Nicolaitans, 
agreeing with the strong language used concerning them in the Reve- 
lation, is another evidence to the same effect. I think also that the 
same thing is implied in the first epistle of St. Peter. Twice in that 
epistle he admits that the heathens spoke against Christians as evil 
doers ; and he by no means denies altogether the truth of the chaise, 
but rather urges those to whom he was writing to show that in their 
case it was false. His question, «* Who is he that will harm you, if 
ye become yivfjoOe, followers of that which is good t" and his saying, 
" Let none of you sufiTer as a murderer, or thie^r evil doer," 1 Peter, 

52 THE cnuRcn. 

iii. 13 ; iv, 15. ; appear to show that a portion at least of the sufferings 
of persons calling themselves Christians, had been really the just con- 
sequence of their crimes : and it is remarkable that here, too, the com- 
mand " to abstain from fleshly lusts," is followed immediately by the 
command "to obey the laws and government," 1 Peter ii. 11, 13 ; as 
if the Apostle was regarding the very same characters who are de- 
scribed in his second epistle, — men at once licentious and anarchical. 

In Paul's epistles, we find no less frequent indication that there ex- 
isted many within the Church, whose principles and lives were alto- 
gether unchristian. The well-known passage in 2 Timothy iii. 1 — 8, 
refers, indeed, rather to a time immediately following than to one past 
or present ; still it was verified before the close of the first century. 
But the union of superstition and profligacy is described as a thing ac- 
tually existing in the Church in the epistle to the Philippians, iii. 18, 
19, and again in the epistle to the Galatians, vi. 12, 13 ; and it appears 
above all in the Judaizers, so often referred to in the epistles to the Co- 
rinthians. It is evident, too, from the peculiar language twice used in 
declaring the sinfulness of licentious pleasure, " Be not deceived," — 
" He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man but God," 1 Corin- 
thians, vi. ; 1 Thessalonians, iv. 8 ; that there were some who would 
not listen to the Apostle in this matter, and who tried to persuade their 
fellow Christians that he was imposing on them a yoke needlessly ri- 
gid. Finally, the corrupters of true Christianity, whom Titus was 
sent to Crete to check, were vain talkers and deceivers, giving heed to 
Jewish fables and human traditions, and at the same time denying God 
in their lives, and being " abominable," ^deXvxrol, " and to every 
good work reprobate," uduxi^ioij — " of no account and worthless." 
Titus, i. 10—16. 

These passages might be greatly multiplied, but what has already 
been quoted is sufficient for our purpose. A great point is gained, 
when we understand that the heresies condemned by the Apostles were 
not mere erroneous opijiions on some theoretical truth, but absolute 
perversions of Christian holiness ; that they were not so much false as 
wicked. And further, where there was a false opinion in the heresy, 
it was of so monstrous a character, and so directly connected with profli- 
gacy of life, that it admits of no comparison with the so-called heresies 
of later ages. What should wo think of men professing themselves 
to be Christians, and yet maintaining, as did the Docette, that Christ 
never really died or really rose, or asserting that the resurrection was 
past already ; that is, that in the sense of a rising from the grave to 
eternal life there was no resurrection at all ? 

These opinions and principles, and this practice, existed in the early 

TSB cnrscH* 53 

Church, in open defiance of the authority of the Apostles. In the 
Arian controversy, and in all others which have since arisen among 
Christians, the question has turned upon the true interpretation of the 
Apostles' words ; but both parties have alike acknowledged that what the 
Apostles taught was to be received as the undoubted rule of faith and 
of action. Not so, however, the real heretics of the first century. St. 
Paul is continually arguing against adversaries, with whom his bare 
authority, it is evident, would have weighed nothing. How strong is 
his expression to Timothy, *' All they that are in Asia are turned away 
from me," 2 Tim. i. 15 : they have followed another view of Chris« 
tianity as better than mine. And again, in matters of government, we 
see that Diotrephes, a man evidently of no mean rank in the Church, 
openly set at nought the authority of St. John, 8 John, 9. Thus it ap- 
pears that we were in danger, humanly speaking, of having a Christian 
Church, a society of men baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, who 
yet did not acknowledge the authority of Christ's Apostles, and who be- 
lieved and practised things most opposite to the principles and revela- 
tions of true Christianity. 

It was therefore no vain superstition, and no wish to establish a 
priestly dominion, which led Ignatius to insist strongly on agreement 
with and obedience to the bishop, or which had induced Clement to 
press the importance of not displacing those ciders who had been ap- 
pointed directly or at one remove by the Apostles themselves. And the 
view here taken will also account for the otherwise irrelevant language 
which accompanies such exhortations to obedience. It explains why 
Polycarp should speak of being subject to the elders and deacons in 
close connexion with his charge to abstain from fleshly lusts. KaXdv 
yijciff i6 dyaxvmeadut &n6 tuv ImQvfii^v iv jQ x6ofi(0j or» Tiaaa intOvfiia 
xard Tov nvBvfiaxog aiQatBiexaif .... ^lo diov d7Z^/eada» diTib na'y. 
Twv TO'uKoyy -bnoTaaaouivovg loXg nQea^viegotg xal $iax6voig^ (hg Oeca 
xal XQiam, Polycarp, ad Philipp. v. Compare our Lord's words 
with regard to the Scribes and Pharisees : — " The Scribes and Phari- 
sees sit in Moses' seat : all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, 
that observe and do." Matthew, xxiii. 2, 3. That is, " they are teach- 
ers of a true revelation from God, and whatever they bid you observe 
in their teaching, that do, without regard to the bad characters of those 
who so teach you." That our Lord directed obedience to them only so 
far as they taught the commandments of Moses, is clear from this, that 
he did not obey them himself in those usages which they had engraft- 
ed on the law of Moses by their own sole authority. And so Po- 
lycarp's command to the young Christians to be subject to their elders 
and deacons, and to abstain from fleshly lusts, has a direct reference to 



them as teachers of genuine Christianity, which condemned such in» 
duJgencest in opposition to many heretical teachers, and to the general 
opinion ol' the heathen world, which regarded them with inditTercncc, 

The same reason for enforcing obedience to the bishop appears 
in the epistle of Ignatius to the Epliesians. The bishop of that church, 
at the time when this epistle was written, was Onesimus, ot whom, per- 
«onally, Ignatius speaks in very high terras. lie commends also Bur- 
rhus, a deacon of the same church, together with Crocus, Euplus, and 
Fronto, all of them probably holding some station in the government 
of it. Now, if Ignatius remembered how Paul himself had complained 
that all they who w^re in Asia (i, e., the Roman province so called, of 
which Ephcsus was one of the principal cities) were turned away from 
him, and how especially be bad commissioned Timolheus to purify the 
government of the Ephesian church, in order to stop the spreading of 
false and mischievous principles ; what wonder is it that, seeing now 
such a bishop and such a government as ho thoroughly approved of, be 
should urge the church to the closest union with ihem^ and the strictest 
obedience to their instructions, as the readiest way of abiding and ad- 
vancing in the tnie path of Christian holiness ? 

Thus, when he speaks of Onesimus as praising Ihe orderliness of the 
Ephcsians, — that they lived according to truth, and that no sect follow- 
ing falsehood dwelt among them, he adds, Ignat* ad Ephes, vi., ** For 
some are wont to carry about their name," (their name of Christians), 
"falsely and deceitfully, doing deeds unworthy of God : these ye should 
shtm as wild beasts ; for they are mad dogs, biting before men are 
aware : and ye should beware of these, for iheir madness is hard to 
cure/' And again, **Even your deeds of a t!esh!y sort are all spirit- 
ual, for ye do all things in Jesus Christ ; but I know that some have 
gone aside from that right way, and have an evil doctrine,'* IgnaU ad 
Ephes, vii, viii, ix. 

This also explains the earnest desire manifested by Ignatius, that the 
Church should go on in unity. Parties existed bearing the name of 
Christians, but only serving by their monstrous principles and evil lives 
to bring that name into dishonour. How closely, then, ought all real 
Christians to hold together, lest their whole society should fall to pieces. 
But to the Church, or society of Christians, God's promises were 
given ; Christianity was not meant to be held by a multitude of isolat- 
ed individuals, but where the lawful government and the majority of a 
society are, there is the society itself. Hence the strong expression of 
Ignatius : *^Let no man be misled ; if a man be not within the altar, 
he fails of obtaining the bread of God, For if the prayer of one or 
two be of such force, how much more that of the bishop, and of the 


whole church t He, then* who joins not with the rest of the churchf 

he, we may be sure, is proud ; for it is written, < God resist- 

eth the proud.' Let us be careful then not to resist our bishop, that 
we may be subject to God." Ignat ad Ephes. v. We should par- 
ticularly observe the stress here laid on the prayers of a great number^ 
which is just like the language of SU Paul. 2 Cor. i. 11 ; iv. 15. 
But it is quite inconsistent with a system of priestcrafl, where the num- 
bers of the people signify nothing, but the virtue is supposed to reside 
in the prayers of the priest. And although the language here used by 
Ignatius was very liable to abuse, and although Cyprian, and still more 
the Church writers of later times, have abused it most palpably, yet 
still as used by Ignatius himself, it really contains nothing objectionable, 
if we only take the pains to understand the circumstances of the case. 
He saw the Church falling to pieces by the formation of various parties 
whose principles and practice were alike unchristian. The bishops 
appointed either immediately or at one remove by the Apostles were 
upholding the authority of the Apostles' doctrine, and endeavoring to 
enforce it. Around them, therefore, was the true Church gathered. 
Here was a genuine apostolical succession ; and to this Church, gov. 
emed by these bishops, Ignatius earnestly exhorts all Christians to ad- 
here, as separation from it was either abandoning Christianity alto- 
gether, and substituting in the place of it some monstrous system of 
error and wickedness ; or else it was the indulgence of individual 
pride or unsocial temper, in separating from the Christian society, and 
forming a religion for themselves individually. And if the bishops 
now had been virtually selected by the Apostles, as men on whom they 
could depend; or if they were the only teachers who taught true Chris- 
tianity now, while other ministers, instead of preaching the gospel, 
taught Manicheism or Mohammedanism ; or again, if the bishops and 
their churches formed such a living Christian society, that separation 
from them could only be the pride or fimtastic spirit of a few indi- 
viduals ; then the sentiments of Ignatius, although expressed, accord- 
ing to the temper of the man, with too little qualification, would yet in 
the main be just and applicable now. 

2. Epistle to the Smymseans. — ^In this epistle, Ignatius is earnestly 
writing against those who have been called " Docetse;" those who con- 
tended that our Lord did not really die and rise again, but only seem- 
ingly, doxslv ttididy nsnovOivat, These persons also, he says, were 
unchristian in their spirit and life : '* They have no care fi)r charity, 
nor for widow nor for orphan, nor for the distressed, nor for the prisoner, 
nor for the hungry nor the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist, 
and from public prayer, because they do not allow that the Eucharist is 


the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our 
sins, which in his goodness the Father raised up." Ignat. ad 
Smyrn. vi. 

Now, it is manifest that if this passage bears at all upon the priestly 
notions of the communion, it goes the whole length either of transub- 
stantiation, or at least of consubstantiation. If Ignatius meant to con- 
demn the Docetae for not thinking highly enough of the elements, as they 
are called, used in the communion ; then undoubtedly his wonls were 
very incautiously used, if he did not intend his readers to believe that 
the bread and wine tcere actually the body and blood of Christ. In 
this case, his authority may be of use to the members of the Church of 
Rome, in their disputes with those of the Church of England, but can- 
not be pleaded consistently by us, so long as we profess to abide by our 
present Articles and Liturgy. But in truth Ignatius objects to the prac- 
tice of the Docetaj on a very diflferent ground. He complains of their 
rejection of the symbol as showing that they rejected that reality 
which it signified. The Communion was intended to keep in memory 
the death of our Lord, and through our memory to strengthen our faith, 
and so to make us actually and personally partakers in the benefits of 
his death. But the Docetai said that he had not really died, and had 
made therefore no real sacrifice for us. Faith in what had no real ex- 
istence must be vain ; and the memory of an unreal event must be 
vain also. Therefore they rejected the Communion, and in so doing 
they showed that their notions were not the notions of Christ and his 
Apostles, and his Church. For the Communion had been instituted by 
Christ to keep alive for ever the remembrance of his death ; and this 
showed that his death was a reality. Now, as the rejection of the 
Communion followed consistently, from their principles, and indeed 
was required by them ; and as they rejected it for the very reason for 
which Christ had notoriously instituted it, their rejection of it was an 
evidence that their principles were not the principles of Christianity. 
This is the drift of Ignatius's argument, and so understood, it is of vali- 
dity : otherwise, taken as a mere argument upon the nature and inher- 
ent virtue of the Eucharistic symbols, it has nothing to do with the 
opinions of the Docetaj ; for it is most certain that thousands of Chris- 
tians have held the most various notions as to this point, and yet have 
steadily agreed in celebrating the Communion, and have believed 
most firmly in the reality and saving effects of that death of Christ 
which it was appointed to commemorate. 

A remarkable passage follows : — " Flee divisions, as the beginning 
of evils. Follow all of you the bishop, as Jesus Christ followeth his 
Father ; and the estate of the elders as the Apostles ; and reverence 

THS ouuiua* 67 

the deacons as God's ordinance. Let no man do any thing of matters 
pertaining to the church apart from (or separate from) his bishop. Let 
that be counted a valid Eucharist, (^ej^a/a,) which is celebrated under 
the bishop, or under one who shall have received his permission to 
celebrate it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the people 
be ; in like manner as wheresoever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catho- 
lic Church* It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize, or to 
celebrate the feast of love ; but whatsoever the bishop shall have ap- 
proved, this is well pleasing to God, that whatever is done maj be sure 
and valid." Ad Smjrm. viii. ^a<paUg^ «ai ^d^aior. And then he 
goes on : — *^ It is good to acknowledge God and the bishop. He who 
honours the bishop b honoured by God ; he who does any thing with- 
out the knowledge of the bishop, serves the Devil." Ad Smym. ix. 

The first sensation which we ought to have on reading such a pas- 
sage as this, is one of gratitude to God, who has not permitted any such 
language to appear in the writings of the Apostles. In fact, the strik- 
ing difTerence between the Scriptures and the early Christian writers, 
is more observable in what the Scriptures do not contain, than in what 
they do ; for their divine truths are for the most part faithfully copied by 
the writers who so carefully studied them ; but in their freedom from 
all foolishness and error, they stand altogether alone. Doubtless God's 
Spirit would not have permitted any Scriptural writer to cast such a 
snare upon men's consciences as must have been cast by this passage 
of Ignatius, if it came to us with divine authority. Judged as a mere 
human writing, there is enough of truth in it, and enough of justifica- 
tion in the circumstances under which it was written, to prevent us 
from passing a harsh sentence on its author ; but blessed be God a 
thousand times, that no language so exaggerated, and so much more 
vehement than wise, is to be found in that Word which was designed 
to be our souls' guide. 

I believe fully that Ignatius's horror of divisions in the Christian 
Church originated in the odious character which those divisions then 
wore ; inasmuch as the separating sects actually separated themselves 
from the principles of Christianity. I believe also, that he exalted the 
authority of the bishops, because he believed that they had been wisely 
chosen, and that their influence was alone capable of preserving the 
Church from the evils which surrounded it. It is true, farther, that he 
was laying down no general and perpetual principle, but speaking to 
the Christians of Smyrna of his own time, with reference to their own 
particular bishop. But still the language is unguarded and exaggerat- 
ed ; it forgets that the bishop, like his people, was fallible ; that man 
is not a sufficient stay for other men to rest upon ; that if anarchy and 



Action be evils on the one hand, idolatry of human authority is no lets 
an evil on the other. Compare the tone of this passage with the spirit 
in which St. Peter expresses himself on the same siibject : — '^ The 

elders who are among you, I exhort, to feed the flock of God, 

taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly ; 

not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind ; neither as being lords over 

God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock Likewise, 

ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be sub* 
ject one to another, and be clothed with humility ; for God resisteth the 
proud, and giveth grace to the humble." Peter, v. 1 — 5. No de- 
fence of a priestly dominion could be extracted from this passage ; so 
perfectly has God's Spirit fenced it round on every side, and tempered 
one view by its opposite. But the words of Ignatius, taken as thej 
stand, have a tendency to establish in the Christain Church tjranny in 
the rulers, and idolatry in the people ; although I quite believe that if 
Ignatius had been questioned as to his meaning, he would earnestly 
have disclaimed the consequences of his language, and would have 
expressed himself more guardedly. 

As to the general position, '* that a fraction of any society cannot 
perform such acts as belong to the society itself," it is indisputably 
true. No individual, or small party of individuals, could be authorized 
to do any worldly act in the name of their society, unless they were 
commissioned by its acknowledged governors. A private man could 
not sell the church's property, nor give it away in alms ; and so bap. 
tism, which is the admission of a new member into the church, re- 
quires to be performed by the church itself or with its sanction. And 
if it be essential to the Communion that it should be shared by all the 
members of the church, then it too becomes a public act, and requires 
of course the sanction of public authority. All this is true if we regard 
the church as a mere human^ society, and it leads to no tjranny, be- 
cause it wholly leaves untouched the great question, ^' What is to be 
done when the public authorities do not speak the sense of their so- 
ciety, but act wholly in opposition to it ?" and merely goes upon the 
general and ordinaiy rule, '* that the public authorities do represent 
their society, and are therefore justly considered to possess the exclu- 
sive power of acting in its name." 

Yet, when we consider the tendencies of power to encroach more 
and more upon the rights of others, and the immense mischief of drain- 
ing off as it were the whole vital activity of society into that small por- 
tion of It which exercises the supreme government, there is always a 
danger in making the individual ruler or rulers so completely the repre- 
sentatives of the body, as to sink the body itself into complete insignifi- 


cance. What the fiction of the Lex Reg^ia had made the emperors of 
Rome, that the words of Ignatius would make the bishops of the Chris- 
tian Church ; and when we hear him say, <^ wherever the bishop shall 
appear, there let the people be," we are reminded of a later declara- 
tion of the most imperious despotism, <* L'^tat, c'est mou" But most 
especiallj dangerous is such language in a religious society ; for there 
despotism is apt soon to become priestcraft, and priestcraft is at once 
idolatry. And, therefore, our Lord and his Apostles, although they cer- 
tainly did not wish to encourage turbulence and disobedience to lawful 
authority amongst Christians, yet have shown themselves no less care- 
ful in shutting the door against an excessive reverence for any human 
teacher or governor. And nothing can be more opposite than the im- 
pression likely to be produced by the words of Ignatius, ^* Follow all of 
you the bishop, as Jesus Christ followeth his Father : wherever the 
bishop shall appear, there Jet the people be ; as, wheresoever Christ 
is, there is the Catholic Church," and especially that most rash ex- 
pression, " He who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop 
serves the Devil ;" and by the words of Christ on the other side, — 
'^ Call no man your father upon earth ; for one is your Father, who is 
in heaven :" and, *' Be not ye called rabbi, for one is your master, even 
Christ, and all ye are brethren." Matthew, xxiiL 8, 0. 

Still, unguarded as is the language of Ignatius, and though it had a 
direct tendency to bring in priestcraft, and has been quoted repeatedly 
in support of the notion of a priesthood ; yet it is only just to confess, 
that Ignatius himself appears to have had no such meaning. His 
words exaggerate unwisely the power and importance of Christian go- 
vernors ; they make them too universally and without exception the 
representatives of the church ; but they acknowledge in them no priestly 
character. It is to avoid divisions that Ignatius will have no separate 
worship and no separate sacraments ; he invests the bishop with the 
full character of the church, and so regards him as the appointed chan- 
nel of God's gifts to the individual members of it ; but it is to the body 
of the whole church, and not to an order of priests distinct fi-om it, that 
he believes Christ's promises to have been given, and his authority 
conveyed. And although the two systems but too often lead practically 
to the same results, yet, in principle they are widely different. A 
priesthood supposed to be of divine appointment is a hopeless evil ; it 
requires nothing less than a new revelation to remove it. But the de- 
gree to which the governors of a society may be supposed to represent 
it, naturally varies according to times and circumstances. There are 
seasons of peril when a dictatorship affords the only means of safety ; 
that is, when the rulers must wield the whole authority of society, and 


the rights and powers of the society must be merged in their persons 
altogether. But, in quieter times, society deputes far less of its autho- 
rity, and it is most desirable that it should retain in itself no small por- 
tion of life and activity, lest it sink into utter helplessness. It may be 
that, in the days of Ignatius, the Church did wisely in committing to its 
rulers an almost absolute authority ; it is most certain that it would 
act most unwisely if it were to do the same thing now. 

3. Epistle to the Magnesians. — In this epistle there occurs again 
much of the same sort of strong language which has been already no- 
ticed, as to the necessity of being closely united to the bishop and the 
elders. But there is nothing connected with our present subject which 
seems to call for any separate notice : — 

4. Epistle to the Trallians. — In this epistle we find the following 
passage, which I copy from the text of Mr. Jacobson's edition : — 

^ei dh xttl jo^g diaxdvovg^ bvjag fivaT?jQl(oy ^Itjuov Xgtorov xordt niirTa 
iq6jiov Tiuatv iLqiaxeiv o«J yCnq ^QiOfidTuiy x«i noiibv fiaiv dtfixovoiy dXl* iXm 
xlrjaiug 06ov in-fftsjai. Ad Trail, ii. "Illos enim," so Vossius inter- 
prets, *^ non esse ministros esculentorum et poculentorum, sed minis* 
tros mysteriorum Dei, sive sacramentorum" "The fivoH^qm ^Irjaov 
Xqtarov are the sacraments." This is with some a favourite doctrinct 
and we have seen already that they have not scrupled to ascribe it 
even to St. Paul, when he calls himself a steward of the mysteries of 
God. But here is the gradual growth of the corruption of Christianity. 
In St. Paul's language, " the mysteries of God " mean something quite 
different from the sacraments ; in Ignatius, the expression probably in- 
cludes the sacraments, but not as the principal part of the idea ; in later 
writers, it would mean the sacraments principally, if not exclusively. 

It may be observed, however, that the actual reading in Ignatius is 
not fivaxTjQlwp but /wvarTJ^toy : the text runs thus in the single MS. now 
known to be in existence, loitg diaxdvovg, Hvrag fivaxi^qtov * Itjoov Xqkj- 
tov. But the old Latin translation, and the longer version of the epis- 
tles of Ignatius, agree in reading fivaxriqlaiv, and it is also plain, from 
the corrupt state of the text in many places, that our single MS. is a 
very bad one. Amdt, of Ratzeburg, however, in an able paper on the 
genuineness of the epistles of Ignatius, in the 1st Number of the twelflh 
volume of the Theologische Studien und Kritiken, defends the reading 
/uuaTTjoior,and interprets it in the sense of" likeness," "copy," — refer- 
ring to Polycarp's epistle to the Philippians, chap, v., where Christ is 
said to have been di&xovog 71(Slvto)v, There seems, therefore, on the 
whole, no reason to interfere with the actual reading of the MS. At 
any rate if we adopt the reading /mucttj^^/wv, the passage is not to be 
read as Mr. Jacobson has edited it, with a comma afler dtuxdrovg, but. 


ro^ dtax6yovg 6pTag ftuaxtif^fjiv^ », t. X. *< It befits those who are minis- 
ters of Christ's mysteries," &c. It now remains to be seen what Ig- 
natius meant by diaxd^ovg fivaji^QlaM *Itjoov XQiatov. 

Now it may be true that Ignatius amongst the other /«t/arij^ of 
Christ would have included the sacraments : but the question is, whe- 
ther the term express the sacraments either exclusively or principally. 
It cannot be too oflen repeated, that the whole question with which I 
am concerned regards the prominence of the sacraments in the scheme 
of Chrbtianity, and by no means their existence in that scheme, which 
I am as ready to allow as any of those who esteem of them most highly. 
But did Ignatius regard the ministration of the sacraments as the prin- 
cipal part of the deacon's office, or did he include it merely as one out 
of many parts, and that not a prominent one ? So that when he spoke 
of /uucTziJ^ia XQiaiov, he was thinking principally of other things than 
the sacraments, although, if he had been asked whether he meant the 
term to include the sacraments also, he might probably have answered 
in the affirmative ? 

a. The word fivtniqiop occurs several times in the New Testament, 
but in no one place is there the least pretence for supposing that it 
so much as includes the sacraments, far less that it speaks of them 
principally. I have already noticed the palpable misinterpretation of 
St. Paul's words, 1 Corinth, iv. 1, where some have fancied that St. 
Paul meant to call himself a << dispenser of the sacraments." But with 
this exception, I do not know that any one has ventured, even wrongly, 
to ascribe this sense to the word, The confusion as to the meaning of 
the Latin woixl " sacramentum," which is the old translation of ^var^j. 
Qiov^ in Ephesians v. 32, needs scarcely to be noticed ; because neither 
does '' sacramentum " in the language of the old Latin Christians mean 
what has been since technically called a " sacrament," nor is it applied 
to any rite or institution in which men can partake on earth, but to the 
wonderful incarnation of our Lord, in that he left his Father to join 
himself to our nature, and so to become one with us. 

^. Ignatius himself twice uses the word iuudrii^ioy, in the scriptural 
sense ; that is, ** a truth or doctrine not discoverable by man but re- 
vealed to him by God." Thus the three truths, that Christ should have 
been bom as a man, and born of a virgin, and that he should have died 
for us, are called by Ignatius " three mysteries," Ephes. 19 ; and 
Christ's life and death are again called a " mystery," Magnesians, 9 ; 
and he adds, *^ through this mystery we received our faith, and for the 
sake of this we wait patiently, that we may be found Christ's disciples." 
The probability is, therefore, that if Ignatius called the deacons 
'^ministers of Christ's mysteries," he meant to call them ^'ministers of 


the great truths of Christianity," and not merely " ministers to distri- 
bute meat and drink to the poor in alms." 

y. Even in Cyprian's time the word " sacramentum," which was 
from the earliest period of the Church the corresponding Latin term to 
the Greek (ivax^q^ovj is applied generally to the solemn and deep things 
of Christianity, without any especial reference to what are now called 
" sacraments." In Cyprian's 63rd letter, which contains a long argu- 
ment on the necessity of using both water and wine in the cup at the 
Communion, the term " sacramentum " is applied, as we might expect, 
several times to various points in the institution of the Lord's Supper. 
So again, in the 72nd letter, we find it applied both to baptism and to 
the laying on of hands, or confirmation. But in like manner, C3rprian 
speaks also of the many " sacramenta," " deep truths of God," which 
are contained in the Lord's Prayer. De Oratione Domini c&, 142. So 
he speaks also of the " sacramentum Trinitatis," in his 73rd letter; of 
the " sacramentum vita) SBtema)," in his Treatise on the Lord's Prayer, 
p. 151 ; of the " sacramentum unitatis," or mystery of the unity of the 
Church, and of the " sacramentum divinae traditionis," letter 74th, where 
it means little more than " the sacredness of the lessons taught us bj 
Christ and his Apostles." Thus it appears that, in the middle of the 
third century, and in the writings of a man sufiliciently inclined to exalt 
the ordinances of the Church, the term sacramentum was not even yet 
exclusively applied to what have been since called sacraments. 

5. Epistle to the Philadelphians. — ^This epistle, besides various 
other passages, insisting on the necessity of uniting with the bishop, as 
in the other epistles, contains also the following : — 

SnovdctaaTB olv fiiif edxagtailcf ;^^aOa*« fiia yitq adgS tov KvqIov ^/i&y 
Itjaov Xgitjiov xal %v ttottj^io*' tig tywj^y tov a2fiaTog a^roO* Sv dvatatm^m 
qiov Uig ejg inloHonog, tt/i« tg> nqfG^vxiqli^ xal Staxdyoig TOig avvdoi'Xoig 
f40Vy h'ut iijLv ngdoofjTe xotA Gehv ngeiaafjTe, Ad Philadelph. iv. There 
is nothing here in what is said of the Communion deserving of remark, 
except the use of the word duoiaaii^^Qioy, Did Ignatius mean to call 
the communion table an altar, and the bishop who administered the 
Communion a priest sacrificing at the altar ? 

The answer is, that he did not : but that by the term Ovaiaanfigtop 
he meant the Church of Christ, and the sacrifice to be offered on that 
altar was the sacrifice of prayer and praise, and of the bodies and souls 
of every Christian ; and by combining together the words " one altar 
and one bishop," he meant that there should be only one Church and 
one government of it ; not a multitude of separate bodies of Christians 
with their separate rulers : for that then the sacrifice of the Christian 
law would no longer be ofiTered in unity. 


That Ovatatn^^op in the earlj Christian writers signifies the Church 
of God, as St Paul also calls the Church the pa6gy or temple of Godt 
may be shown from various instances. The earliest and best example 
of this is to be found in the New Testament itself^ in the epistle to the 
Hebrews. TherCf in the 18th chapter, v. 10 — 15, we have the follow- 
ing remarlsable words : "Ex^fiep Ovouxat^toyj iS ob ^yeXv atx l/ov« 
a^p iSovolay of T^ onriv^ XaTQ€{toptsg, m. t. i. Where the argument 
runs thus : our sacrifice, as an atoning sacrifice must have been, was 
ofilered without the camp; that is, away from and out of the pale of the 
earthly Israel. We follow him without the camp also ; our altar is no 
longer in the temple at Jerusalem, but without its precincts ; it is where 
Christ was ofilered ; that is virtually everywhere, where Christ's people 
are gathered together. There is their altar in the midst of their own 
company, and on that altar they ofiTer up their sacrifices, now rendered 
acceptable through His atoning sacrifice, their spiritual sacrifice of 
prayer and praise and acts of charity. Of this altar the Jews have no 
right to eat ; that is, as they would in the like case have no right to 
eat of the actual sacrifices offered on a literal altar which was quite dis- 
tinct from their own temple, so they have no right to partake in the 
spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise ofl^ered on the Christian altar, 
or in the spiritual bread of life, communion with Christ, which is there 
for ever present. 

Thus also Polycarp, in his epistle to the Philippians, bids the widows 
of the Christian Church to remember that they are God's altar,* and 
that every oflering offered upon that altar must be without blemish. 
Ad Phillip, iv. That is, Christians themselves are God's spiritual 
altar, and their prayers, praises, and holy actions are the proper sacri- 
fices to be ofiered upon it. 

Thus also Ignatius himself, in his epistle to the Ephesians, says,' ^^ If 
a man be not within the altar, he fails to obtain the bread of God ;" 
Ad Ephes. v. and again, in the epistle to the Trallians, ^' He that is 
within the altar, he is clean." Ad Trail. 7. In the latter passage 
there follows immediately this explanation : *^ that is, he who does any- 
thing apart from the bishop, and the company of elders, and the deacon, 
he is not clean in his conscience." And afler the former passage the 
writer goes on, *' For if the prayer of one or two persons has so great 
force, how much more is the force of the prayer of the bishop and of 

* So in the Apostol. Constitot. II. 36 ad fin., we find the mme notion, «7 x^t 
Kflti e^atro) lie TVTof rw Bv9t*0^n^iov XiKaydv^Bata'Af C/utir 8i <n intf^m lie r6mf twBv/uuau 
mifUu TfTi^»V9«0>aty, Kx\ rotf Bvfuuoi^eL'nt. If thii upon the notion that offerings were 
given for the widows, 6&c., and paid to them as on an altar 7 


the whole Church ?" It appears, therefore, from both these passages, 
that the altar is the Church of Christ, and that the sacrifices offered on 
it are prayers. And as it is said in the epistle to the Hebrews, that 
*' the Jews hare no right to eat of our altar," so Ignatius says, ^' that 
he who is without tho Church cannot obtain the bread of God ;" that 
is, as the shewbread under the law might be eaten only by the priests, 
so Christ, who is our Bread of life, is only to be enjoyed by those who 
are his priests, ministering at his altar, tliat is, by his people, who on 
the altar of his Church offer to him their prayers and themselves. 

6. Epistle to Polycarp. — In this epistle, I may notice the passage 
in which Christians proposing to marry are recommended to do it with 
the sanction and approbation of the bishop, in order that their marriage 
may be according to God, and not according to mere passion. This 
advice is remarkable, as it shows to what a length Ignatius carried his 
notions of unity, and what a Spartan discipline as to the merging the 
individual will in the will of the society, or of its representative, he 
would fain have introduced into the Christian Church. Regarding the 
bishops of the several churches as men eminently fitted to bring their 
people to the purest state of Christian perfection, and considering that 
amongst their people, their subjects I might almost call them, there ex- 
isted the greatest varieties of wild opinion and licentious practice, he 
saw no other remedy than to invest the rulers of the Church with ab- 
solute authority. Hence, he not only wished to unite in their persons 
every power of government, and to subject to their absolute control 
every thijig that might bo called a public or social act of the Church as 
a body ; as when he would have no Communion celebrated without the 
bishop's authority ; but he would even give them dominion over acts 
most strictly belonging to the individual Christian ; even for marriage 
he would require their sanction, as being the fathers of the Christian 
family : they were to judge whether the proposed union was entered 
upon in a Christian spirit, or whether it was desired from mere youth- 
ful passion. Now this subjection of the individual to the society, even 
in the most private relations of domestic life, was very agreeable to the 
spirit of many of the ideal commonwealths of the Greek philosophy ; 
and, in the famous constitution of Sparta, it had been actually established 
in practice. Much was to be said in its behalf, by those especially who 
were most aware of the evils of the opposite extreme, of leaving the in- 
dividual will wholly uncontrolled, except if it should attempt to offer a 
direct injury to another. Nor can we doubt that Ignatius recommended 
pure despotism as sincerely and as conscientiously as ever men of dif. 
ferent views and under different circumstances have protested against 
it. But instead of seeing in the letters of Ignatius a strong display of 


views which have been often entertained by wise and good men, and 
which in this particalar case were more than ordinarily justified by the 
peculiar circumstances of the Church, men hare sought to find in him 
a perpetual law of Church government, and have taken his most vehe- 
ment expressions as an authoritative definition of the powers which 
ought to be always exercised by the rulers of the Christian society. Nor 
is this all ; but as persons who have been capable of so misusing him 
were not likely to have very clear notions of government and the ques- 
tions connected with it, so it has happened that confounding difilerent times 
and usages, and being the slaves of a name, they have transferred what 
Ignatius says of the necessity of an absolute government in the hands 
of the bishop, to the later system of the mystical power of the priest, 
hood ; and where he would acknowledge nothing as an act of the church 
which was not done by the authority of the bishop, they have quoted 
him as sanctioning their doctrine of the necessity of a priestly conse- 
cration of the elements to the sacramental virtue of the Lord's Supper : 
where he would have the bishop's consent obtained for all marriages, 
that they might be such as a Christian ought to contract, he has been 
quoted as enforcing the necessity of the priestly benediction to give to 
the rito of marriage any validity.* 

Here then we close our present inquiry : but one or two points seem 
naturally to arise from it, and with some notice of these I will conclude 
this chapter. 

1. We do not find in these early Christian writers the doctrine of 
the priesthood and sacraments which was afterwards prevalent in the 
Church ; but we find language which will sufliiciently account for the 
subsequent introduction of that doctrine ; whereas the Scriptures not 
only do not contain it, but absolutely repel it : between them and it 
there is a great gulf fixed, over which no art of man can cast a bridge. 

2. A full consideration of this language in the early uncanonical 
writers, will lead to three conclusions. While, in the first place it 
marks the wide distinction between them and the Scripture, and should 
lead us to thank God that the scriptural writers were so secured by his 

* " Ilinc dare patct," says Smith, '* nuptias non fuisse habitos juBtas et legitimas 
absque scntentid cpiscupi, et benedictione aacerdotaliy in primis Ciiristianismi aeciu 
lis.*' Smith is confounding two ideas perfectly distinct, one of which Ignatius had, 
while of the other not the slightest trace is to be found in him. He did wish that the 
bishop should have the power of a father over the whole church, that his consent 
should be obtained before any Christian could marry. This is a power of govern- 
ment, and this he undoubtedly wished to give to the bishop of every church. But to 
require a priestly blessing in order to hallow the rite of marriage is a very different 
notion, and one of which Ignatius says nothing whatever. 


Spirit, not from error only, but from such unguarded and one-sided lan- 
guage, if I may so speak, as might readily become the occasion of error ; 
we shall, in the second place, be spared the pain of believing that 
Christianity was grossly corrupted in the very next generation after the 
Apostles by the men who professed themselves to be the Apostles' true 
followers. We shall rather have reason to believe that their language, 
taken in their own meaning, and as applied to the circumstances of the 
Church in their own times, was substantially true. We shall be able 
to sympathize with Ignatius in his earnest desire to keep the Church 
in unity with its bishops, and with Clement in his sense of the value 
of their Apostolical succession ; we shall readily confess that to this 
unity, and this real Apostolical succession of the early bishops, we owe 
the general acknowledgment of the authority of the Apostles and of 
their writings ; — we owe it, in fact, that our Christianity at this day is 
that of St. John, and not of Cerinthus ; of St. Paul, and not of his Ju« 
daizing adversaries. And comparing these early Christian writers 
with the Scriptures on the one hand, and with the later Church system 
on the other, as developed in the forged Apostolical constitutions, we 
shall be able to trace three stages through which Christianity passed, 
and which, indeed, exhibit what may be called the law of decay in all 
institutions, whether administered by men only, or devised by them as 
well as administered. The first and perfect state exhibits the spirit of 
the institution not absolutely without all forms, for that is impossible, 
but regarding them as things wholly subordinate, indifferent in them- 
selves, and therefore deriving their value from particular times 
and circumstances ; and as such particular times are not yet come, 
the spirit of the institution is as yet wholly independent of them ; 
it uses their ministr}", but in no way depends upon their aid. 
Then comes the second stage, when from particular circumstances the 
existence of the spirit of the institution depends on the adherence to 
particular outward regulations. The men of this generation insist, as 
well they may, on the necessity of these forms, for without them the 
spirit would be lost. And because others profess to honour the spirit 
no less than they do, therefore they are obliged to make the forms 
rather than the spirit their peculiar rallying word. Around and for 
these forms is the stress of battle : but their defenders well know that 
they arc but the husk in which the seed of life is sheltered ; that they 
are but precious for the sake of the seed which they contain, and to the 
future growth of which they, under the inclemencies of the actual 
season, are an indispensable condition. 

Then the storm passes away, and the precious seed, safely sheltered 
within its husk, has escaped destruction. The forms have done their 


appointed work, and, like the best of mortal instruments their end 
should be, that afler having served their own generation by the will of 
God, they should fall asleep and see corruption. But in the third stage 
men cannot understand this law. Their &thers clung to certain forms 
to the death ; they said — and said truly — that unless these were pre. 
served, the spirit would perish. The sons repeat their fathers' words 9 
although in their mouths they are become a lie. Their fathers insisted 
on the forms even more earnestly than on the spirit, because in their 
day the forms were peculiarly threatened. But now the forms are se- 
curely established, and the great enemy who strove to destroy them 
whilst they protected the seed of life, is now as ready to uphold them, 
because they may become the means of stifling it. But the sons, un- 
heeding of this change, still insist mainly on the importance of the 
forms, and seeing these triumphant, they rejoice and think that the vic- 
tory is won, just at the moment when a new battle is to be fought, and 
the forms oppress the seed instead of protecting it. Still they uphold 
the form, for that is a visible object of worship, and they teach their 
children to do the same. Age afler age the same language is repeated, 
whilst age afler age its falsehood is becoming more flagrant ; and still 
it is said, " We are treading in the steps of our Others from the very 
beginning ; even at the very first these forms were held to be essen- 
tial." So when the husk cracks, and would fain fall to pieces by the 
natural swelling of the seed within, a foolish zeal labours to hold it to- 
gether : they who would deliver the seed, are taxed with longing to 
destroy it ; they who are smothering it, pretend that they are treading 
in the good old ways, and that the husk was, is, and ever will be, essen- 
tial. And this happens because men regard the form and not the sub- 
stance ; because they think that to echo the language of their fore- 
Withers is to be the &ithful imitators of their spirit ; because they are 
blind to the lessons which all nature teaches them, and would for 
ever keep the egg-shell unbroken, and the sheath of the leaf unburst, 
not seeing that the wisdom of winter is the folly of spring. 

So it has been with the unity of the Church under its bishops, and 
with their apostolical succession. In the second stage of the Church, 
these were really essential to the protection of Christian truth : in its 
third stage, through many generations, they have been a mere empty 
name, powerless to preserve or to increase the spirit of Christianity, 
but often only too powerful in stifling and in corrupting it. 



In the inquiry which has been pursued through the last two chapters, 
we have seen that the doctrine of the priesthood is repelled by the 
Scriptures, and not acknowledged by the earliest uncanonical Chris- 
tians. The first of these results ought to be abundantly sufficient for 
our practice : the doctrine which the Scripture not only does not teach, 
but which it virtually condemns, must be inconsistent with Christianity. 
The second result, although not needed practically, is yet on two ac- 
counts interesting. It is satisfactory to find that the Church in the very 
first century had not grossly corrupted Christian truth. It is also satis- 
factory to find in the peculiar circumstances and language of these 
early writers, an explanation, and something of a palliation for the 
grievous errors of the subsequent age. Had any ^generation of Chris- 
tians fallen at once from the perfect spirit of Scriptural truth into the 
doctrine of the priesthood, it would have seemed hardly less than apos- 
tacy from the faith ; but Ignatius and his contemporaries exhibit the 
Church in a sort of transition state, which, although not one of error, 
yet rendered the actual errors of the following period more excusable. 
We now proceed to see how the errors themselves came in ; howgoy- 
ernment was converted into priesthood, and how Judaism, driven from its 
own ceremonies, and obliged to abandon circumcision and the distinc- 
tion of clean and unclean meats took possession of the Christian sacra- 
ments, and held with effect under their names the very same mis- 
chievous doctrines which, when connected with the names of Jewish 
ceremonies, the Church had been so earnestly warned to avoid. So 
what took place with regard to the sacraments, was the exact converse 
of what happened with respect to Apostolical succession ; each in- 
stance equally confirming the truth, that men are ruled by names and 
not by things. On the one hand, the benefits of a real Apostolical 
succession were supposed to be retained, because there was still an 
Apostolical succession nominally : on the other hand men thought that 
they were safe from Judaism, because they put the word baptism in the 
place of circumcision, and talked of the mystic virtue of the elements 
in the Communion, instead of the purifying nature of clean meats, and 
the defiling character of such as were unclean. 

Let us now see in what respects the Church, early in the second 
century, was ready to slide into the doctrine of a priesthood, with all its 
accompanying corruptions of Christian truth. 


The beginning of the second century found the Church under the 
government of bishops, many of whom had derived their appointment 
from the Apostles themselves, at only one or two removes ; that is to say, 
they had been chosen by men who had themselves been chosen by an 
Apostle, or by persons such as Timotheus, in whom an Apostle had en- 
tertained full confidence. They were engaged in an arduous struggle 
not only against heathenism, but against various monstrous forms of 
error which claimed to themselves the name of Christianity ; and as 
happens naturally in such times of danger, they drew to themselves 
more and more, not through ambition, but by the necessity of the case, 
the whole power of the Christian society. They were the representa- 
tives of the Church, and without them the Church had no existence ; 
those were not the prayers of the Church, that was not her Commu- 
nion, which the bishop did not either preside at or sanction. Here, 
then, was a government of a religious society, whose sanction was con- 
sidered necessary to the religious acts of that society, and which 
grounded its claim to obedience mainly on the fact that it derived its 
authority all but immediately from the Apostles, and so might be sup- 
posed to represent them faithfully. We see here at once two facts, 
which, with a very little corruption, might become two of the most 
essential elements of a priesthood ; we see the germ of the necessity 
of a priestly consecration of the elements in the sacraments, and of 
the transmission of the priestly character by a sort of elective sue- 

Now, if it had pleased God that the Church at this period should 
Lave become a sovereign society, as it did two centuries later, it might 
have been more easy to prevent the government of the bishops from 
being confounded with the notion of a priesthood. Had they been able, 
that is, to exercise the full powers of government, to control society in 
the last resort, and to exercise jurisdiction over life and property, the 
largeness and outward greatness of their functions would have so satisfied 
men's minds, that none would have sought for them any higher or nobler 
office than that which they were manifestly seen to exercise. But govern- 
ment in a subordinate society, and divested consequently of its sovereign 
character, is of necessity far less imposing. As a government, it is 
wholly eclipsed, to the vulgar eye at any rate, by that greater govern- 
ment of general or sovereign society^ to which it must be itself subject. 
Considered as a ruler, the bishop of a Christian church appeared a fiir 
less important person than the Proconsul of a province ; the most nu- 
merous synod was as nothing when compared with the sovereign of the 
Empire. Yet there was in the Church a greatness more than the Em- 
pire could boast of; there was a sense in which its bishops were greater 


than Csesar. For a time this was even outward and tangible ; so long 
as the Apostles possessed and conferred those extraordinary gifls of tlie 
Holy Spirit which no wealth of man could purchase, nor power com* 
pel. When these were withdrawn, the real greatness still remained, 
but it was such as common minds can with difficulty appreciate. Tlie 
moral elevation conferred by truth and holiness ; the willing obedience 
of good men ; the task of guiding a society whose members spiritual^ 
considered were privileged &r above the rest of mankind, to be as it 
were the salt of the very salt of the earth itself; these were points of 
greatness most real and most exalted. But the mind of man, disappoint* 
ed of what is outward and sensible, turns not to what is spiritual, but to 
what is mystical ; unsatisfied with the real excellence of the office of a 
Christian bishop, it coveted the mystical and false dominion of a priest* 
According to Christ's ordinance, the rulers of the church were die* 
tinguished above their brethren in all that may be called the human re- 
lations of the Christian society ; they had authority both to teach and 
to govern. The one only occasion on which this distinction was to 
cease, was when the church as a body came into direct relation with 
God and Christ; that is to say, in its public prayers and in the Holy 
Communion. Rulers and teachers cease to be distinguished from the 
people, exactly in those acts in which the priest's distinction is greatest. 
Others may teach, and others may govern ; for these are human rela* 
tions ; but in direct relation with God, the priest's mediation is wanted | 
he must pray for the people, and their communion with God can onlj 
be carried on through him. But as prayer and the Holy Communion 
^P^ were the church's most solemn acts, as a body, if its rulers here were 

on a level with other Christians, it seemed to lessen the dignity of their 
office. It was not enough that the presence or sanction of the bishop 
was required to render the Christian supper a true Communion of the 
church ; nor that, in the celebration of it, the bread and wine were, to 
prevent confusion, distributed by the principal members of the society, 
either by the bishop himself or by the elders. The priestly mystical 
power, which seemed so much greater than the mere government of a 
subordinate or municipal society, was not here to be found. Another 
step was to be taken, not only that the bishop's authority as head of the 
church should be required in order to invest any meeting of Christians 
with the public character of the church, but that religiously the church 
itself could not communicate with Christ without the mediation, not of 
the bishop alone, but of the bishop or some one of his presbyters, all of 
whom were to possess equally with him this mediatorial character. 
Nor was it to be a mere matter of order that the bread and wine were 
distributed by those who presided at the meeting to the several com- 


municants, after the usual form of thanksgiTuig before meat, had been 
uttered ; but from this distribution and this form of thanksgiving they 
were to derive their sacramental virtue, and having been before mere 
common bread and wine, they became immediately through the virtue 
of the words so uttered, and of the priestly character of him who uttered 
them, changed into the body and blood of Christ It could not but fol- 
low from this, that the Communion should be represented as an actual, 
not a spiritual sacrifice, in which there was a visible offering made, 
and which therefore required a priest 

But one of the oldest representations now extant, of the celebration of 
the Communion in the ancient Church, seems in a remarkable manner 
to avoid these corruptions. I allude to the famous fragment of Irensus 
first published by PfafT, from a MS. in the library of Turin, and given in 
the Benedictine edition of the works of Irenseus, Venice, 1734. In 
this famous passage, Irenseus contrasts the spiritual sacrifices of Chris- 
tianity with the carnal sacrifices of the Jewish law. He divides the 
Christian sacrifices into two kinds ; those of prayer and thanksgiving, 
and those which consist in the ofilering up of ourselves to God, to do him 
service. ** Wherefore," says he, ** the ofilering also of the Eucharist is 
not carnal but spiritual, and thereby it is clean, naOaqa. For we of- 
fer to God the bread, and the cup of blessing, rendering thanks to him, 
for that he has bidden the earth to bring forth these fruits for our nour- 
ishment. And here, having completed our ofifering, we call upon the 
Holy Spirit, that he may render Anoffn^vriy this sacrifice to be, both the 
bread the body of Christ, and the cup the blood of Christ, that they 
who have partaken of these symbols, ivuvlfTrnp, may obtain forgiveness 
of their sins, and life eternal. They, then, who bring these ofiferings in 
remembrance of the Lord, do not join themselves to the ordinances of 
the Jews, but worshipping, Unov^ovt^jsg, spiritually, shall be called 
the children of wisdom." 

Now this most remarkable passage exhibits in a surprising complete- 
ness that notion of the Communion which has been given in the first 
chapter of this work. The sacrifices or ofilerings of Christians must 
be spiritual, for we must worship God in spirit and in truth ; and the 
ofifering of the Eucharist is therefore a clean and accepted ofifering, be- 
cause it is spiritual. How then is the Eucharist a spirihwl sacrifice ? 
Not because of the ofifering of bread and wine, but because of spiritual 
acts accompanying or following that ofifering; the acts, namely, of 
thanksgiving and prayer. Of thanksgiving, when we thank God while 
ofifering the bread and wine before Him, that He has given us these 
things for our bodily sustenance : of prayer, when, after having com- 
pleted the ofifering, and partaken of the bread and wine, we pray to God 


the Holy Spirit, that he will make that temporal food also a spiritual 
lood ' and that as bread and wine support our bodies, so, whilst in eat- 
ing that l»rcad and drinking that wine, wo remember Christ's body and 
C^lirist's blood. His body and blood may bo the redemption and the 
strengthening of our souls to everlasting life. Thus, the bread that 
perishcth is changed by the Holy Spirit into the bread of life; having 
eaten bodily for our bodily good, the Holy Spirit guides us to eat spi- 
ritually for our spiritual good. But the soul feeds itself not with Uie 
mouth and teeth, but by thoughts and love. To eat spiritually. Is to 
assimilate an object to our spirits by drawing it to them by thought, and 
fimbracing it by love. He, therefore, who cateth Christ shall live by 
him ; because, by believing in Christ and loving him, he takes Christ 
into his spirit, and his nature becomes assimilated to that of Christ, and 
so he lives and must live forever. Truly, therefore says Irenaeus, that 
tlicy who offer the bread and wine to God, in remembrance of the Lord 
.hmus ; that is, who, after having partaken of their bodily food, and 
therefore, every day, do pray to the Holy Spirit that their souls may 
Jeed upon Christ no less as their spiritual food ; they by that prayer 
convert what else would be a formal and Jewish sacrifice into one that 
is Christian and spiritual. Their service to God, Asnovqyla, is a spi- 
ritual service, and they who so serve Him have no fellowship with the 
ordinances of the Jews, but shall be called the children of wisdom. 

But observe that here, in this description of the Christian Communion, 
there is no mention of a priest's words of consecration changing the 
bread and wine beforehand into the body and blood of Christ , and so 
giving occasion to all manner of superstitions and profaneness. The 
bread and wine are received with thanksgiving, as bread and wine^ as 
fruits of the earth, which God our Creator has commanded the earth to 
yield for our bodily support. Then, after they have been received, comes 
not a form of consecration by an earthly priest, but a prayer to God the 
Holy Spirit, to Him who communes with us only as spirits, dealing not 
with our natural life, but with our spiritual ; that He may render to 
each of us the bodily and outward offering a spiritual and inward offer- 
ing ; that by eating bread and drinking wine, not simply as fruits of the 
earth, but iu remembrance of Christ's death, our spirits may feed upon 
Christ himself, in all his manifold relations to us, and so be strengthened 
by him and become like to him more and more. In other woi-ds, we 
pray to the Holy Spirit to keep alive in us daily our spiritual appetites 
and powers, that they may desire Christ and receive him into them- 
selves, as naturally — naturally, I mean, according to our renewed 
nature — as the healthy body, according to its nature, desires and di- 
gests its bodily food. 





I HAVB called the following pamphlet, "Principles of Church Re- 
form," because I thought it better to try to establish these, than to lose 
myself and my readers in a mass o( minute details. For if the prin- 
ciples be true, there are persons of much greater eiperience and know« 
ledge than myself to contrive the best way of carrying them into ef* 
feet ; while, had I proposed any particular arrangements which might 
have been ill-judged or impracticable, this error in the details might 
have been transferred by unfairness or ignorance to the main princi- 
ples of the argument, and they would have been called impracticable 
abo. These principles I believe to be irrefragable ; that a Church 
Establishment is essential to the well-being of the nation ; that the ex- 
istence of Dissent impairs the usefulness of an Establishment always, 
and now, from peculiar circumstances, threatens its destruction ; and 
that to extinguish Dissent by persecution being both wicked and impos- 
sible, there remains the true, but hitherto untried way, to extinguish it 
by comprehension ; that different tribes should act together as it were 
in one army, and under one command, yet should each retain the arms 
and manner of fighting with which habit has made them most familiar. 
But as to the manner of carrying these principles into efiect, I am 
far from proposing any thing with equal confidence. Nor am I anxious 
about any particular measure, which I may have ventured to recom- 
mend, if any thing can be suggested by others, which may efSdct the 
same great object more completely. But practical ability, of which we 
have no lack in the country, must labour not merely for no good, but 
for absolute mischief^ unless it clearly understands the principles of the 
question. And the numerous plans of Church Reform already before 



the public, have also the same bad effect, that thej lead their leaderv 
off on a false scent, and make them fancy, that by their adoption the 
Church would be reformed and secured, when its great defects and daii« 
gers would remain in fact untouched. But the natural tendency of man* 
kind to reform by patching rather than effectually, gives great reason 
to fear that some one or other of these plans will be adopted ; and that 
the matter will then be considered by the Government to be set at i^sU 
Whereas, in fact, it will not be at rest ; but will be agitated with moie 
violence than ever, and with less hope of a favourable settlement ;— 
because one party will be exasperated at what they will call a mere 
mockery of Reform, and the other will complain that their concessions 
have given no satisfaction, and will therefore be disposed, for the time 
to come, to fight out the battle to the last. 

January 9, 1833. 




Every man who talks, writes, or votes in favour of Church Reform^ 
would do well to ask himself, why he wishes for it. And in like man- 
ner the Government, when legislating to satisfy the general call for 
Church Reform, would do well to consider with what motives it is call- 
ed for ; to see, first, whether they who call the loudest are persons who 
ought to be satisfied ; and, secondly, what it is that truth and wisdom 
demand ; for their call ought certainly to be listened to, though it is 
generally preferred in a voice so gentle, that they who care not for it 
may easily avoid hearing it at all. 

Now Church Reform being a very vague term, it is of great conse- 
quence to know what they, who use it, mean by it. It is impossible 
that a man can care, properly speaking, about the reform of any insti- 
tution, if the objects of the institution are of no interest to him. If 
then a man, without being a Dissenter, is one who seldom or never 
goes to Church, and appears to have very little value for Christianity 
personally ; the main object of the institution of the Church is clearly 
of no interest to him ; and his anxiety for its reform can only be for 
the sake of certain subordinate objects which he may suppose to be 
promoted by it. Still, if he be a man of enlarged and liberal views, 
and capable of desiring the intellectual welfare of his countrymen, 
and their moral improvement also so far as it affects society, he may 
sincerely wish to see the Church reformed in the proper sense of the 
term, although he may not be a religious man ; because the social im- 
provement of man is one of the direct objects of a Church establish- 
ment, although not its highest object ; and it is properly to wish an in- 
stitution reformed, if we wish it rendered more capable of afiectingany 
of its proper objects. But men of another stamp, who neither value 
the social nor the religious benefits conferred by an establishment, can- 
not rightly be said to desire its reform ; they merely wish to see it de- 


stroyed ; and destruction is so very different from refonn, that it is a 
gross fraud to call ourselves friends of the one, when what we really 
desire is the other. 

Here then is one class of Church Reformers, and another class who 
call themselves by the same name, but whose proper title is Church 
Destroyers. A third, and a very numerous class, must however be add- 
ed ; men who have no value for the objects of the Church, nor yet 
any antipathy to it ; who in point of fact neither i^ish for its re- 
form nor for its destruction. They merely look upon its revenues as 
affording the means of lessening their own outgoings in money, by be- 
ing made in part available to public purposes. These men are in truth 
Church destroyers, only they are restrained by temper or by some scru- 
ple of conscience from going the full length of their own principles. 
Their object in short is wholly and entirely selfish, and if we might 
borrow the language of the seventeenth century, we might fitly dis- 
tinguish them by the name of the " Self-seekers." 

The avowed Dissenters join also in the call for Church Refonn ; 
and they again use the term with singular impropriety. They can 
hardly care about the reform of an institution from which they have al- 
together separated themselves. They belong, in fact, either to the class 
of Church Destroyers, or of Self-seekers : to the former, if being con- 
vinced that an establishment is an evil, they wish to see it altogether 
put down : to the latter, if their object be simply to be relieved from 
Church rates, Easter dues and tithes, because they support a ministry of 
their own. But I have heard as yet no language from the Dissenters 
which could entitle them justly to the name of Church Reformers. That 
they may, and ought to become so, I shall endeavour to show hereafter. 

Now it IS manifest, that if we take all these classes of persons to 
the letter of their present, — perhaps I ought to say, their yesterday's 
language, — if we do reform the Church, by ridding it of the evils most 
loudly clamoured against, three out of four of them will still be unsatis- 
fied. It is quite idle to think that the Destroyers, or the Self-seekers, 
really care about pluralities and non-residence, and the inequality of 
Church benefices : still less are they concerned about alterations in 
the Liturgy, or the introduction of a more effective clerical discipline. 
The real question with them is one of money, — ^they want a cheap re- 
ligion, — and they lay the more stress upon the epithet, in proportion to 
their ignorance of the value of the article for which they are bar- 
gaining: about religion they know and care little, — about money they 
know and care much. 

We are told that there is now an universal wish for Church Refonn. 
This as I have shown, is not true ; on the contrary, I doubt exceeding- 


ly, whether the friends of Refonn are powerful enough to get their ob- 
ject effected. There la on one side a great wish for Church destruc- 
tion and Church robbery ; and on the other side a great unwillingness 
to correct Church abuses ; but the generality of the wish for Church 
Reform is a fact which I should exceedingly riejoice to see established. 
It is not enough, in times like these, to stand battling about a few 
points of detail. We must take up the whole question from the begin- 
ning, that we may know on what grounds we are going to legislate. 
Before I discuss any scheme of Church Reform, I must state why I am 
utterly opposed to all schemes of Church destruction. 

I will not insult even the most violent Church destroyer, so far as to 
suppose him to contemplate the ejectment of the present holders of 
benefices. As the law declares that a man's benefice is his freehold, 
it is precisely the same thing to deprive an incumbent of the income 
arising from his church preferment, as to deprive any other individual 
of the rents of his land, or of the profits of his trade. If, therefore, 
such an act could be committed, it would be neither more nor less than 
literal robbery ; and we should be far advanced on our way towards 
that happy consummation, when every man will keep what he can, and 
take what he can. 

But, saving all existing interests, why should not the Establishment 
expire with the present generation ? Why should not the tithes, in 
every parish, revert, on the next vacancy, to the several owners of the 
soil ; and all Church lands be sold for the payment of the national 
debt ; leaving the next generation of ministers, if there be any, to be 
maintained by the voluntary contributions of their hearers ? 

I am so anxious to get to the very principles of the whole question, 
that I am contented to pass over all the particular and practical objec- 
tions which might be made to such a scheme ; — such as its invasion of 
the rights of the patrons of Church benefices ; and the question how 
far episcopal or chapter lands, which certainly were never granted by 
the state, could justly be taken by the state for its own purposes. 
These are all very substantial objections, and would, I hope, be fully 
insisted upon by all friends to law and right, if ever the proposal of 
church destruction should come before the lagislature in its plain form ; 
but I hold it much more satisfactory, to rest the case simply on gene- 
ral principles ; and to show that if the Establishment could be sub- 
verted, without the least individual injustice, or illegality, still it would 
be the greatest possible folly in the nation to subvert it. 

It is quite manifest, that the whole amount of Church property in 
England, including under that name, both tithes, so far as they are in 
clerical hands, and Church lands of every description, is so much sav- 


ed out of the scramble of individual selfishness, and set apart for ever 
for public purposes. Now there are few things from which society in 
England has suffered greater evil, than from the want of property so 
reserved : it is apparent in every town, and in every village, in the ab- 
sence of public walks, public gardens, public exercise grounds, public 
museums, dec, in the former ; and in most instances, of even so much 
as a common green, in the latter : let a man go where he will, he is 
beset on every side by the exclusivencss of private property : the pub- 
lic has kept nothing. This has arisen very much out of the false and 
degrading notions of civil society which have prevailed within the last 
century. Society has been regarded as a mere collection of individ- 
uals, looking each after his own interest ; and the business of govern- 
ment has been limited to that of a mere police, whose sole use is to 
hinder these individuals from robbing or knocking each other down. 
This view of society, alike unphilosophical and unchristian, has large- 
ly counteracted the good which the world, in this advanced stage of its 
existence, has derived from its increased experience ; and its pernicious 
effects have been abundantly shown in the actual state of the poor 
throughout England. For their physical distresses, their ignorance, 
and their vices, are the true fruits of the system of "letting alone ;" in 
other words, of leaving men to practise for their own advancement, all 
arts, save actual violence ; of allowing every natural, and every artifi- 
cial superiority, to enjoy and push its advantages to the utmost, and of 
suffering the weaker to pay the full penalty of their inferiority. 

Thus, even before I consider the particular application of Church 
property, I hold it to be an enormous benefit that it is so much secured 
for ever to public uses ; — a something saved out of the scramble, which 
no covetousness can appropriate, and no folly waste. Again, it is not 
only a considerable mass so saved ; — but it is so happily divided, that 
every portion of the kingdom, with certain wretched exceptions, shares 
in the benefit. The sight of a church tower, wherever it is met with, 
is an assurance that every thing has not been bought up for private 
convenience or enjoyment ; — that there is some provision made for 
public purposes, and for the welfare of the poorest and most destitute 
human being who lives within the hearing of its bells. In the most 
unattractive districts of the country, no less than in the most inviting, 
this same beneficient provision extends itself: — or if it does not, it is 
owing wholly to the neglect of these later times, when all things have 
been lefl to find their own level ; and the result has been, as might 
well have been expected from the inequalities of the bottom, an alter- 
nation of some deep pools here and there with huge wastes of unmois- 
ened sand and gravel. 


But what are the particular public purposes for which this property 
is set apart ? Alms-houses are an admirable provision for the poor and 
aged ; — ^hospitals for the sick ; — schools for the young ; — a public gar- 
den furnishes amusement to all ; — a public library gives instruc- 
tion to all. But this property is designed to provide a benefit 
higher and more universal than any of these, — to secure for everj 
parish the greatest blessing of human society, that is, the con- 
stant residence of one individual, who has no other business than 
to do good of every kind to every person. Men in general have their 
own profession or trade to follow ; and although they are useful to so- 
ciety, yet it is but an indirect benefit — not intended for society in the 
first place, but for themselves ; so that no one feels obliged to them for 
their services, because there is nothing in them which partakes of the 
nature of a kindness. Those again who possess an independent for- 
tune, are not only raised too high to be in perfect sympathy with the 
majority of their neighbours, but are exposed to moral temptations of a 
peculiar kind, which often render them an inadequate example to 
others. Whereas, it is impossible to conceive a ' man placed so fa- 
vourably for attaining to the highest perfection of our nature, as a pa- 
rochial minister. Apart from all personal and particular interests ; 
accustomed by his education and habits to take the purest and highest 
views of human life, and bound by his daily business to cherish and 
sweeten these by the charities of the kindest social intercourse : in 
delicacy and liberality of feeling on a level with the highest : but in 
rank and fortune standing in a position high enough to insure respect, 
yet not so high as to forbid sympathy : — with none of the harshness of 
legal authority, yet with a moral influence such as no legal authority 
could give ; — ready to advise, when advice is called for, but yet more 
useful by the indirect counsel continually afforded by his conduct, 
his knowledge, his temper, and his manners ; — ^he stands amidst the 
fever and selfishness of the world, as one whom the tainted atmosphere 
cannot harm, although he is for ever walking about in it, to abate its 
malignant power over its victims. 

Now I wish it to be observed, that all this good results simply from 
the circumstance, that here is a man of education, relieved from the 
necessity of following any trade or ordinary profession in order to 
maintain himself, and placed in the most improving of all situations, — 
a life of constant intercourse with men, of which the direct and acknow- 
ledged business is to do them good physically and morally. Thus 
much is independent of religion : — and had there been a resident so- 
phist stationed in every village of the Roman empire, with such a 
general commission to improve in every way the condition of the peo- 
ple, the amount of crime and misery would have been enormously les- 


sened. But to all this, how much ia superadded in the Christian minis- 
try I How great is the difference of the notions conveyed by the terms 
" lecturer" and " preacher ;" by the names of " sophist" and " pastor !" 
The truth is, that men bear impatiently the teaching of men, unless it 
comes with more than man's authority : the beneficent relations in 
which a minister stands towards his people, derive much of their pow- 
er from this very circumstance, that he is a minister of religion. And 
Christianity, whilst it fully invests him with this character, yet has 
provided in the strongest manner against superstition and priestcrafl ; 
for a minister can speak with no authority beyond his commission, and 
this commission lies open for all men, to judge whether he adheres to 
it or no. It gives him power unspeakable, so long as he faithfully dis- 
charges it : but deserts and condeoms him the very moment that he 
would pervert it to selfish purposes, to make his own word a law, and 
himself an idol* But in this commission there is contained indeed the 
very food, and more than the food of man's life ; the remedy for all 
troubles and sorrows, from the simplest physical suffering of the rudest 
nature, up to the mental conflicts which are the inevitable portion of 
the lofliest and most sensitive : the medicine for all moral evil, from 
the mere bodily appetites of the most grossly ignorant, to the most deli- 
cate forms of pride or selfishness in minds of the highest intelligence : 
the light to clear up every perplexity of practice, strengthening the 
judgment through the purified affections : the most exalted hope insepa- 
rably united with the deepest humility ; because we believe in Christ 
crucified — because we trust in Christ risen.* 

Now an appropriation of a certain portion of property to secure for 
ever to a whole people so invaluable a blessing as a resident Chris- 
tian ministry dispersed over every part of the country, will naturally 
be objected to by those who hate the very names of God and of good- 
ness. And persons who arrive from mere brutishness at the same 
practical conclusion to which the godless party are led by deliberate 
wickedness, — men who can neither look before nor afler, but limit 
their notions of political good to the mere physical welfare of their own 
generation, because they can understand nothing higher, — such per- 

* I shall not be suspected of meaning this high character of the benefits of a na- 
tional Christian ministry to apply in its full perfection to the actual state of the Church 
amongst us The faults of human nature will always make the practice of an in- 
stitution fall below its theory. But it is no lem true that all the tendencies of the 
ministerial office, as such, are wholly beneficial ; and if the actual good derived 
from it be not so great as it might be, this is owing to counteracting causes, some 
remediable — such, for instance, as faults produced by imperfect education and incffi. 
cient church discipline ; others, arising out of the mere wcakuewi of human nature, 
admittmg only of palliation, not of complete remoTal. 

nmroiKJU of chvbch bbvobm. 81 

sons may consistentlj think that hand work is more useful than head 
or heart woric, and that no elements in society can be so well spared 
as piety, and charity, and moral wisdom. It is no wonder, then, but a 
just tribute to the excellence of the Christian ministry, that it should 
be hated by the sublimed and systematic wickedness of the godless 
party, and by the brute ignorance and coarseness of the dregs of the de- 
mocracy. But that men who, though not religious, are yet admirers 
of much that is noble, and much that is excellent ; — still more, that 
men who really fear God and love Christianity, should be found to 
doubt the wisdom of a national provision for the moral and intellectual 
improvement of the people, for giving them the knowledge of that 
truth which is life eternal, — this is on the face of it a phenomenon so 
strange, nay, so monstrous, that we cannot but eagerly desire, for tho 
honour of human nature, to explain the causes of it. 

It has arisen from that worst reproach of the Christian name, — the 
spirit of sectarianism. For Christians having become divided into 
a thousand sects, and refusing to join in each other's worship, a na- 
tional establishment is regarded as an unjust preference of one sect 
over another ; — and, as it is considered impossible to establish all, and 
unfair to establish any other rather than another, there remains no al- 
ternative but to establish none ; and, to use a phrase much in fashion 
to look upon every man's religion as an affair between God and his 
own conscience only. 

That tho objection to a national provision for the ministers of reli- 
gion arises, amongst thinking men, solely out of the difficulties created 
by sectarianism, is manifest from this ; — ^that where sectarianism has 
not existed, or only in an insignificant degree, the wisdom of such a 
provision has been allowed with remarkable unanimity. For, not to 
speak of the ancient world, where it was a thing unheard of for a state 
to be without its national worship, its temples, its festivals, and its 
priests ; the whole Christian world, from the time that governments 
have become Christian, has acted uniformly on the same principle, with 
the single exception of the United States of America, where the evil 
spirit of sectarianism has wrought his perfect work. And what is still 
more to our purpose, the French people, even while declaring that 
they will have no established religion, have yet retained the great 
benefit of an establishment, namely, a national provision for the reli- 
gious instruction of the people, inasmuch as they keep up the churches » 
and pay the ministers who officiate in them. This they do, because 
the clear wisdom of the principle is not obscured to their minds by the 
perplexities which rise out of religious dissent ; — the Catholics are 
so great a majority, and in most parts of France so nearly the whole 


of the population, that Catholic and Christian are convertible terms, 
and the state's wish to instruct its people is not frustrated by the end- 
less discussions of contending sects, each objecting to all forms of in- 
struction but its own. 

This evil of religious dissent is so enormous, — is so fraught with 
danger at this moment to our highest interests, national and spiritual, 
and has been to my mind so unfairly and unsatisfactorily treated by 
men of all parties, that I shall make no apology for entering fully upon 
the consideration of it. Unless it be duly appreciated, and in some 
measure remedied, it is perfectly needless to talk of Church Reform. 

Whoever is acquainted with Christianity, must see that differences of 
opinion amongst Christians are absolutely unavoidable. First, because 
our religion being a thing of the deepest personal interest, we are 
keenly alive to all the great questions connected with it, which was 
not the case with heathenism. Secondly, these questions are exceed, 
ingly numerous, inasmuch as our religion affects our whole moral being, 
and must involve, therefore, a great variety of metaphysical, moral, and 
political points ; — that is to say, those very points which, lying out of 
the reach of demonstrative science, are, through the constitution of 
man's nature, peculiarly apt to be regarded by different minds differ- 
ently. And thirdly, although all Christians allow the Scriptures to be 
of decisive authority, whenever their judgment is pronounced on any 
given case, yet the peculiar form of these Scriptures, which in the New 
Testament is rather that of a commentary than of a text ; — the critical 
difficulties attending their interpretation, and the stiU greater difficulty 
as to their application : — it being a constant question whether such and 
such rules, and still more whether such and such recorded facts or prac- 
tices, were meant to be universally binding ; — and it being a farther 
question, amidst the infinite variety of human affairs, whether any 
case, differing more or less in its circumstances, properly comes under 
the scope of any given Scripture rule ; — all these things prevent the 
Scriptures from being in practice decisive on controverted points, be- 
cause the contending parties, while alike acknowledging the judge's 
authority, persist in putting a different construction upon the words of 
his sentence. 

Aware of this state of things, and aware also with characteristic 
wisdom, of the deadly evil of religious divisions, the Roman Church 
ascribed to the sovereign power in the Christian society, in every suc- 
cessive age, an infallible spirit of truth, whereby the real meaning of 
any disputed passage of Scripture might be certainly and authoritatively 
declared ; and if the Scripture were silent, then the living voice of the 
Church might supply its place, — and being guided by that same spirit 


which had inspired the written word, might pronounce upon anj new 
point of controversy with a decision of no less authority. 

With the same view of preventing divisions, the unity of the Church 
was maintained, in a sense perfectly intelligible and consistent. Chris- 
tians, wherever they lived, belonged literally to one and the same so- 
ciety, — ^they were subject to the same laws and to the same govern- 
ment. National and political distinctions were wholly lost sight of; 
the vicar of Christ and his general council knew nothing of England 
or of France, of Germany or of Spain ; they made laws for Chris- 
tendom — a magnificent word, and well expressing those Iiigh and con- 
sistent notions of unity, on which the Church of Rome based its sys- 
tem. One government, one law, one faith, kept free from doubt and 
error by the support of an infallible authority — the theory was in per- 
fect harmony with itself, and most imposing from its beauty, and ap- 
parent usefulness ; but it began with assuming a falsehood, and its in- 
tended conclusion was an impossibility. 

It is false that there exists in the Church any power or office en- 
dowed with the gift of infallible wisdom ; and therefore it is impossible 
to prevent differences of opinion. But the claim to infallibility was 
not only false, but mischievous ; because it encouraged the notion that 
these differences were to be condemned and prevented, and thus hin- 
dered men from learning the truer and better lesson, how to make them 
perfectly compatible with Christian union. Doubtless it were a far 
happier state of things if men did not differ from each other at all ; — 
but this may be wished for only ; it is a serious folly to expect it. For 
so, while grieving over an inevitable evil, we heap on it aggravations 
of our own making, which are far worse than the original mischief. 
Difierences of opinion will exist, but it is our fault that they should have 
been considered equivalent to differences of principle, and made a 
reason for separation and hostility. 

Our fathers rightly appreciated the value of church unity ; but they 
strangely mistook the means of preserving it. Their system consisted 
in drawing up a statement of what they deemed important truths, and 
in appointing a form of worship and a ceremonial which they believed 
to be at once dignified and edifying ; and then they proposed to oblige 
every man, by the dread of legal penalties or disqualifications, to sub- 
scribe to their opinions, and to conform to their rites and practices. 
But they forgot that while requiring this agreement, they had them- 
selves disclaimed, what alone could justify them in enforcing it — the 
possession of infallibility. They had parted with the weapon which 
would have served them most effiictually, and strange were the expe- 
dients resorted to for supplying its place. At one time it was the 


Apostles' Creed ; at another the decrees of the four first general coun- 
cils ; or, at another, the general consent of the primitive Church, which 
formed an authoritative standard of such truths as might not be ques- 
tioned without heresy. But though the elephant might still rest upon 
the tortoise, and the tortoise on the stone, yet since the claim to infal- 
libility was once abandoned, the stone itself rested on nothing. The 
four first councils were appealed to as sanctioning their interpretation 
of Scripture by men who yet confessed that the decisions of these coun- 
cils were only of force, because they were agreeable to the Scripture. 
Turn which ever way they would, they sought in vain for an auihori/y 
in religious controversies ; infallibility being nowhere to be found, it 
was merely opinion against opinion ; and however convinced either 
party might be of the truth of its own views, they had no right to judge 
their opponents. 

With regard to the ceremonies and practices of the Church, a difiler- 
ent ground was taken. It is curious to observe the contradictory posi- 
tions in which the two parties were placed : — the Church of England 
enforcing a tyranny upon principles in themselves most liberal 
and most true ; — the Dissenters accidentally advocating the cause of 
liberty, while their principles were those of the most narrow-minded 
fanaticism. One feels ashamed to think that the great truths so clearly 
and so eloquently established by Hooker, in the earlier books of his ec- 
clesiastical polity, should have served in practice the petty tyranny of 
Laud and Whitgift, or the utterly selfish and worldly policy of Eliza- 
beth. The Church of England maintained most truly, that rites and 
ceremonies, being things indifiTerent in themselves, might be altered ac- 
cording to the difference of times and countries, and that the regulation 
of such matters was left wholly to the national Church. But inas- 
much as the government of the national Church was a mere despotism 
— the crown having virtually transferred to itself the authority formerly 
exercised by the popes — its appointments were made with an imperious 
stiffness, which was the more offensive from the confessed indifferent 
nature of the matters in question ; and while one ritual was inflexibly 
imposed upon the whole community, in direct opposition to the feeb'ngs 
of many of its members, and too simple and unattractive to engage 
the sympathies of the multitude, this fond attempt to arrive at unifor- 
mity, inflicted a deadly blow, according to Lord Falkland's most true 
observation, on the real blessing of Christian union. 

I am well aware that if it be a mere question of comparative faulti- 
ness, the opponents of the Established Church in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries are at least as much to be condemned as its 
rulers. That coafse-minded ignorance, which delighted to isolate itself 


from all the noble recollections of past times, and confounded all the 
institutions and practices of the Christian Church during several cen- 
turies, under the opprobrious names of superstition and idolatry ; that 
captious superstition which quarreled with the form of a minister's 
cap, or the colour of his dress, deserved indeed little consideration, if 
the principles of government are to be made dependent on the merits 
of particular parties or individuals. But the cause of truth, and the 
welfare of mankind, have been for ever sacrificed to the paltry 
triumphs of personal argument :— if a party can show that its oppo- 
nents have been more blameable than itself, it looks upon itself as 
standing clear in the judgment of posterity and of God. The provo- 
cation given may indeed lessen our estimate of the guilt of individuals ; 
but it ought not to affect our sentiments of the wisdom or evil tendency 
of their conduct ; and though the virulence and ignorance of the puri- 
tans may dispose us to excuse Whitgifl and Laud, as individuals, yet 
their system is not the less to be condemned, as in itself arbitrary and 
schismatical, and tending to aggravate and perpetuate the evils which 
it professed to combat. 

Thus within fifty years of the overthrow of the Roman religion in 
England, the spirit of Protestantism, followed up only in one half of its 
conclusions, had divided the nation into two hostile parties, each care- 
less of union, and looking only to victory. The religious quarrel 
blending itself with the political struggle at which society in its pro- 
gress had then arrived, became thus the more irreconcileable ; each 
party boasted of its martyrs, and exulted in the judgments which had 
befallen its enemies ; the royalist churchnian consecrated the 29th of 
May as a day of national thanksgiving ; the puritan, who had deemed 
popery and prelacy crushed for ever by the arms of God's saints, now 
bewailed the new St. Bartholomew of 1662, and the vindictive oppres- 
sion of the Five Mile Act. 

There succeeded an age of less zeal, but scarcely of more charity. 
Time had reconciled men to the monstrous sight of a large proportion 
of a Christian people living in a complete religious separation from 
their fellow-Christians ; of a numerous portion of the children of the 
State, living as aliens from the national worship. And the means hith- 
erto adopted for preventing such a division- were so odious in them- 
selves, and had so signally failed to efifect their object, that none could 
wish them to be continued any longer. Hostilities were accordingly 
suspended and the Toleration Act was passed ; — a strange measure, 
by which the nation sanctioned the non-observance of its own institu- 
tions, and relaxed by one half the bond of national communion. Yet 
at the very same period an attempt to efifect, not a peace, but an union 


with the Dissenters, totally failed : those true Christians who wished 
to make the national Church more comprehensive, were unable to carry 
their point : persecution first — ^toleration aflerwards — any thing seemed 
preferable to Christian charity and Christian union. 

Then followed one of those awful periods in the history of a nation, 
which may be emphatically called its times of trial. I mean those 
tranquil intervals between one great revolution and another, in which 
an opportunity is offered for profiting by the lessons of past experience, 
and to direct the course of the future for good. From our present dizzy 
state, it is startling to look back on the deep calm of the first seventy 
years of the eighteenth century. All the evils of society were yet 
manageable ; while complete political freedom, and a vigorous state of 
mental activity, seemed to promise that the growth of good would more 
than keep pace with them, and that thus they might be kept down for 
ever. But tranquillity, as usual, bred carelessness ; events were leA 
to take their own way uncontrolled ; the weeds grew fast, while none 
thought of sowing the good seed. The Church and the Dissenters 
lived in peace ; but their separation became daily more confirmed. 
Meanwhile the uniformity, and the strict formality, which the Church 
had fondly adopted in order to extinguish Dissent, now manifestly en- 
couraged it. As the population increased, and began to congregate 
into large masses in those parts of the country which before had been 
thinly inhabited, the Church required an enlarged machinery, at once 
flexible, and powerful. What she had was both stiff and feeble ; her 
ministers could only officiate in a church, and were compelled to con- 
fine themselves to the prescribed forms of the liturgy ; while the Dis- 
senters, free and unrestricted, could exercise their ministry as circum- 
stances required it, whether in a mine, by a canal side, or at the doors 
of a manufactory ; they could join in hymns with their congregations, 
could pray, expound the Scriptures, exhort, awaken, or persuade, in 
such variety, and in such proportions, as the time, the place, the mood 
of their hearers, or their own might suggest or call for. 

Thus, by the very nature of the case, the influence of the Dissent- 
ers spread amongst the poorer classes. It was a great good, that the 
poor and ignorant should receive any knowledge of Christianity ; — 
but it was a mixed good, because the evil of sectarianism was at hand 
to taint it. The minister at the meeting-house rejoiced to thin the 
church ; — ^the minister of the church rejoiced in his turn, if he could win 
back hearers from the meeting. As if their great common cause had 
not required all their efforts, much of their zeal was directed against 
each other ; and if there was not hostility, there was an increase of 
rivalry and of jealousy. It might have been thought that the many 


good and active men who were now daily rising up amongst the minis- 
ters of the Establishment, would have been struck bj the evils of their 
position, and have laboured to remove them. But some had been so 
used to the existence of Dissent, that thej were insensible to the mag- 
nitude of its evils ;— others, with the old party spirit of the High 
Churchmen, imagined that all the blame of the separation rested with 
the Dissenters ; thej talked of the sin of schism, as if thej were not 
equally guilty of it ; they would have rejoiced in the conformity of the 
opposite party, that is to say, in their own victory ; but they had no no- 
tion of any thing like a &ir union. Others, again, fully occupied with 
their own individual duties, and feeling that they themselves were use- 
fully employed, never directed their attention to the inadequacy of the 
system to which they belonged, considered as a whole ; while a fourth 
set argued against reforming the Church now, from the fact of its 
having gone unreformed so long ; and because the crisis was not 
yet arrived, they were blind to the sure symptoms of its progress, 
and believed that it would only be brought on by the means used to 
avert it. 

But the population outgrew the efforts both of the Church and of the 
Dissenters ; and multitudes of persons existed in the country who 
could not properly be said to belong to either. These were, of course, 
the most ignorant and degraded portion of the whole community, — a 
body whose influence is always for evil of some sort, but not always 
for evil of the same sort, — which is first the brute abettor and en- 
courage r of abuses, and afterwards their equally brute destroyer. For 
many years the populace hated the Dissenters for the strictness of 
their lives, and because they had departed from the institutions of their 
country ; for ignorance before it is irritated by physical distress, and 
thoroughly imbued with the excitement of political agitation, is blindly 
averse to all change, and looks upon reform as a trouble and a dis- 
turbance. Thus the populace in Spain and in Naples have shown 
themselves decided enemies to the constitutional party ; and thus the 
mob at Birmingham, so late as the year 1791, plundered and burnt 
houses to the cry of <* Church and King," and threatened to roast Dr. 
Priestley alive, as a heretic. But there is a time, and it is one fraught 
with revolutions, when this tide of ignorance suddenly turns, and runs 
in the opposite direction with equal violence. Distress and continued 
agitation produce this change ; but its peculiar danger arises from this, 
that its causes operate for a long time without any apparent effect, and 
we observe their seeming inefficiency till we think that there is no« 
thing to fear from them ; when suddenly the ground falls in under our 
feet, and we find that their work, though slow, had been done but too 


surely. And this is now the case with the populace of England. 
From cheering for Church and King, they are now come to cry for no 
bishops, no tithes, and no rates : from persecuting the Dissenters, he* 
cause they had separated from the Church, they are now eagerly join- 
ing with them for that very same reason ; while the Dissenters, on 
their part readily welcome these new auxiliaries, and reckon on their 
aid for effecting the complete destruction of their old enemy. 

This being the state of things, it is evident, that the existence of Dis- 
sent has divided the efforts of Christians, so as to make them more ad- 
verse to each other than to the cause of ungodliness and wickedness ; 
it has prevented the nation from feeling the full benefits of its national 
Establishment, and now bids fair to deprive us of them altogether. 
Dissent, indeed, when it becomes general, makes the establishment 
cease to be national ; there being so large a portion of the nation whose 
religious wants it does not satisfy. Yet we have seen, on the other 
hand, that differences of religious opinion, and of religious rites and 
ceremonies, are absolutely unavoidable ; and that since there exists on 
earth no infallible authority to decide controversies between Christians 
it is vain for any one sect to condemn another, or in its dealings with 
others to assume that itself is certainly right, and its opponents as cer- 
tainly in error. 

Is it not, then, worth while to try a different system ? And since dis- 
union is something so contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and differ- 
ence of opinion a thing so inevitable to human nature, might it not be 
possible to escape the former without the folly of attempting to get rid 
of the latter ; to constitute a Church thoroughly national, thoroughly 
united, thoroughly Christian, which should allow great varieties of opin* 
ion, and of ceremonies, and forms of worship, according to the various 
knowledge, and habits, and tempers of its members, while it truly held 
one common faith, and trusted in one common Saviour, and worshipped 
one common God ? 

The problem then is, to unite in one Church different opinions and 
different rites and ceremonies ; and first, let us consider the case of a 
difference of religious opinions. 

Before such an union is considered impracticable, or injurious to the 
cause of Christianity, might we not remember what, and how many, 
those points are, on which all Christians are agreed ? 

We all believe in one God, a spiritual and all-perfect Being, who 
made us, and all things ; who governs all things by His Providence : 
who loves goodness, and abhors wickedness. 

We all believe that Jesus Christ, His Son, came into the world for 
our salvation ; that He died, and rose again from the dead, to prove 

noiromsi of CHimoK bxvobm. 8t 

that Hif true seirants shall not die etemally, but shall rise as He is 
risen, and enjoj an eternal life with Him and with His Father. 

We all believe that the yolume of the Old and New Testaments con- 
tains the revelation of God's will to man ; that no other revelation than 
what is there recorded has been ever given to mankind before or since ; 
that it is a standard of faith and a rule of practice ; so that we all ac- 
knowledge its authoritj, although we may often understand its meaning 

We all have, with very few exceptions, the same notions of right and 
wrong ; or, at anj rate, the dificrences on these points do not exist be- 
tween Christians of difierent sects, but between sincere Christians of 
all sects, and those who are little better than mere Christians in name. 
We all hold that natural feults are not therefore excusable, but are ear- 
nestly to be struggled against ; that pride and sensuality are^ amongst 
the worst sins ; that self-denial, humility, devotion, and charity, are 
amongst the highest virtues. We all believe that our first great duty 
is to love God ; our second^ to love our neighbour. 

Now, considering that on these great points all Christians are agreed^ 
while they differ on most of them from all who are not Christians, does 
it seem unreasonable that persons so united in the main principles of 
man's life, in the objects of their religious affections, and of their hopes 
for eternity, should be contented to live with one another as members 
of the same religious society? 

But they differ also in many important points, and cannot therefore 
form one church without seeming to sanction what they respectively 
believe to be error. Now, setting aside the different opinions on 
church government, which I shall notice presently, is it true that there 
are many important points of pure doctrine on which the great majority 
of Christians in England at this moment are not agreed ? The Presby- 
terians, the Methodists of all denominations, the Independents, the Bap- 
tists, the Moravians, can hardly be said to differ on any important point, 
except as connected with church government, either from one another 
or from the Establishment. The difference with the Baptists as to the 
lawfulness of Infant Baptism, may perhaps be thought an exception ; 
but, if I mistake not, one of the highest authorities among the Baptists 
has expressly maintained the lavvfiilness of communion with Psedobap- 
tists ; and the question is not which practice is the more expedient, but 
whether Infant Baptism on the one hand, or the refusing it to all who 
cannot understand its meaning on the other, be either of them errors 
so fatal as to make it impossible to hold religious communion with 
those who maintain them. 

There remain the Quakers, the Roman Catholics, and the Unita- 



rians, whose differences appear to offer greater difficulty. And un* 
doubtedly, so long as these sects preserve exactly their present charac- 
ter, it would seem impracticable to comprehend them in any national 
Christian church ; the epithet '< national " excluding the two former, 
and the epithet " Christian," rendering alike impossible the admission 
of the latter. But the harshest and most oflfensive part of the peculiari- 
ties of every sect has always arisen from the opposition of antagonists. 
Extravagance in one extreme provokes equal extravagance in the 
other. If, then, instead of devising forms so positive and controversial, 
as te excite mistrust of their accuracy in the most impartial minds, and 
vehement opposition from those whose opinions lean to a different side, 
we were to make our language general and comprehensive, and con- 
tent ourselves with protesting against the abuses which may follow 
from an exclusive view of the question, even when it is in itself sub- 
stantially true, it is probable that those who differ from us would soon 
begin to consider the subject in a different temper ; and that if truth 
were the object of both parties, and not victory, truth would in fact be 
more nearly attained by both. In this respect, the spirit of the Seven- 
teenth Article of the Church of England affords an excellent model, in- 
asmuch as it is intended to be comprehensive and conciliatory, rather 
than controversial. And the effect to be hoped for from assuming such 
a tone, would be the bringing reasonable and moderate men to meet 
us, and to unite with us ; there would of course be always some vio- 
lent spirits, who would maintain their peculiar tenets without modifica- 
tion ; but the end of all wise government, whether in temporal matters 
or in spiritual, is not to satisfy every body, which is impossible, but to 
make the dissatisfied a powerless minority, by drawing away from them 
that mass of curable discontent whose support can alone make them 

That there is this tractable disposition in the majority of mankind, 
experience sufficiently proves. And we should remember that at pre- 
sent the spirit of sectarianism binds many men even to the extrava- 
gances of their own party, because they think it a point of honour not 
to be suspected of lukevvarmness. But even as things are, we know 
that many Quakers conform, in their dress and language, much more 
nearly to the rest of the world, than the stricter members of their sect 
approve of. Would not this temper be carried still further if those 
needless assertions of the lawfulness of war and of oaths were expunged 
from our Articles, and if we showed ourselves more sensible to that 
high conception of Christian perfection, which breathes through their 
whole system, and which, even when perverted into extravagance, ought 
AOt to be spoken of without respect ? 

ntnfoiFUs oT chukor sbvosm. 01 

Again, with the Roman Catholics ; — as long as we indulge in that 
scurrilous language respecting them, which is almost habitual to one 
party amongst us, we shall assuredly do nothing but confirm them 
in all their errors, and increase their abhorrence of Protestantism. It 
is perfectly idle to attack their particular tenets and practices, till we 
can persuade them that they may lawfully judge for themselves. Nor 
shall we efiect this by calling the Pope Antichrist ; — and his claim to 
in&Uibility the blasphemous fruit of ambition and avarice. We dare 
not analyze too closely the motives of our best actions ; — ^but if ever 
grand conceptions of establishing the dominion of good over evil may be 
allowed to have concealed from the heart the ignobler feelings which 
may have been mixed with them, this excuse may justly be pleaded for 
Gregory VII. and Innocent III. The infallibility of the Church was 
the fond effort of the human mind to believe in the reality of the support 
which its weakness so needed ; — its unity was a splendid dream, beau* 
tiful but impracticable. We might sympathize with the Roman Catho- 
lics in the wish that wo could find any infallible guide — that there ex- 
isted on earth the wisdom and the goodness capable of exercising an 
universal dominion ; — and then we might urge them to consider whe- 
ther indeed our wishes are enough to warrant our belief — whether ex- 
perience does not forbid the fulfilment of our hopes ; — and whether the 
lesser, but certain good be not a surer stay to our infirmities, than an 
image of perfection which we cannot realize. 

If ever the Roman Catholics of England could be convinced that uni- 
versal empire is equally impracticable in religious matters as in tempo- 
ral ; and that no bond of society, using the term in the strict sense of 
a body of men living under the same government, and bound by the 
same laws, can be more extensive than that of the political society or 
nation to which every man belongs by birth, they would then feel that 
they were members naturally of the Church of England, and not of the 
Church of central Italy. And then they would acknowledge further, 
that as the Parliaments of our ancestors could not preclude their pos- 
terity from making such alterations as the altered circumstances of a 
fiiture generation might demand ; so neither could the councils of our 
ancestors debar their successors from a similar right ; that the national 
Church in every generation is equally invested with sovereign power 
to order such rites and forms of worship as it may deem expedient ; 
and that though necessarily unable to command conviction in matters 
of opinion, it may yet lawfully regulate matters of practice. And if our 
Church were made truly national in point of government, if the king's 
supremacy were made what it was intended to be in principle, the sub- 
stitution of a domestic government instead of a foreign one, and if our 


ecclesiastical constitution were rendered definite and intelligible, is it 
beyond hope that many who are now Roman Catholics, would ere long 
unite themselves religiously as well as politically with the rest of their 
countrymen ? 

Lastly, with regard to the Unitarians, it seems to me that in their 
case an alteration of our present terms of communion would be especially 
useful. The Unitarian body in England consists of elements the most 
dissimilar ; including many who merely call themselves Unitarians, b€« 
cause the name of unbeliever is not yet thought creditable, and some 
also who are disgusted with their unchristian associates, but who cannot 
join a church which retains the Athanasian creed. Every means should 
be taken to separate these from their present unworthy society, that 
they who are really Christians might join their fellow.Christians, and 
they who are really unbelievers might be known by all the world to be 
so. I know that many good men draw a broad line of distinction be- 
tween errors respecting the Trinity, and errors on any other point. 
They cannot unite, they say, with those who are not Trinitarians ; and 
Lord Henley, while advocating an union with Dissenters in general, 
especially excepts those who, to use his own language, '* deny the di- 
vinity of our Lord, or the mystery of the triune Jehovah." The last 
expression is worthy of notice, as affording a specimen of that irritating 
phraseology which has confirmed so many in error. Is it the way to 
reclaim any man from Unitarianism, to insist upon his believing in 
'* the mystery of the triune Jehovah ?" The real question is, not what 
theoretical articles a man will or will not subscribe to, but what essen- 
tial parts of Christian worship he is unable to use. Now, the address- 
ing Christ in the language of prayer and praise, is an essential part of 
Christian worship. Every Christian Would feel his devotions incom- 
plete, if this formed no part of them. This, therefore, cannot be sacri- 
ficed ; but we are by no means bound to inquire, whether all who pray 
to Christ entertain exactly the same ideas of his nature. I believe that 
Arianism involves in it some very erroneous notions as to the object of 
religious worship ; but if an Arian will join in our worship of Christ, 
and will call him Lord and God, there is neither wisdom nor charity in 
insisting that he shall explain what he means by these terms ; nor in 
questioning the strength and sincerity of his faith in his Saviour, be- 
cause he makes too great a distinction between the divinity of the Fa- 
ther, and that which he allows to be the attribute of the Son. 

It seems to have been the boast hitherto of the several sects of 
Christians, to invent formulae both of worship and of creeds, which 
should serve as a test of any latent error ; that is, in other words, which 
should force a man to differ from them, however gladly he would have 

ramcivun or c^hukoh maioni. 0B 

remained in their communion. May God give us, for the time to < 
a wiser and a better spirit ; and may we think that the true problem to 
be soWed in the composition of aU articles and creeds and prayers lor 
public use, is no other than this ; how to frame them so as to provoke 
the least possible disagreement, without sacrificing, in our own practi- 
cal worship, the expression of such feelings as are essential to our own 

If it be said that this is contrary to the uniform example of the Chris- 
tian worid, it is unhappily too true that it is so : and let history answer 
how the cause of Christianity has prospered under the system actually 
adopted. Or let those answer who, in attempting to acquaint themselves 
with ecclesiastical history, have groaned inwardly for very weariness 
at its dull and painful details. What ought to be more noble or more 
beautiful, than the gradual progress of the Spirit of light and love, dis- 
pelling the darkness of folly, and subduing into one divine harmony aU 
the jarring elements of evil, which divided amongst them the chaos of this 
world's empire ? Such should have been the history of the Christian 
church ; and what has it been actually ? No steady and unwavering 
advance of heavenly spirits ; but one continually interrupted, checked, 
diverted from its course, nay, driven backwards, as of men possessed 
by some bewildering spell — wasting their strength upon imaginary ob- 
stacles — ^fancying that their road lay to' the right or lefl, when it led 
straight forward — hindering each other's progress and their own by 
stopping to analyse and dispute about the nature of the sun's light till all 
were blinded by it — instead of thankfully using its aid to show them the 
true path onward. In other words, men overrated the evil of difierence 
of opinion, and underrated that of difference of practice ; and their ef- 
forts were thus diverted from a cause in which all good men would 
have striven together, to one where goodness and wickedness were 
mere accidental adjuncts, equally found on one side as on the other. 
Or, to take a much narrower view of the question, we should consider 
that the very notion of an extensive society implies a proportionate laxi- 
ty in its points of union. There is a choice between an entire agree- 
ment with a very few, or general agreement with many, or agreement 
in some particular points with all : but entire agreement with many, 
or general agreement with all, are things impossible. Two individuals 
might possibly agree in three hundred articles of religion ; but as they 
add to their own numbers, they must diminish that of their articles, unless 
they can prevent their associates from exercising their own under- 
standings. Nor is this only applicable to a national church ; it holds 
good of the smallest districts, where there are assembled men of difiler- 
ent habits, difierent abilities, different degrees of knowledge, different 


tempers, and it maj^almost be said, different ages. If agreement of 
opinion on a number of points be required as the condition of commu- 
nion, there must be many different churches in every town ; and these 
-will be continually multiplying, for exclusiveness grows by indulgence ; 
and men will form select societies among the select, till the church of 
Christ will become almost infinitely divisible. Infallibility or brute ig- 
norance can alone prevent differences of opinion. Men, at once falli- 
ble and inquiring, have their choice either of following these differences 
up into endless schisms, or of allowing them to exist together unheeded^ 
under the true bond of agreement of principle. 

I may be pardoned, perhaps, for some repetition in dwelling again 
on points already noticed ; as this perversion of the term unity, from a 
practicable and useful sense to one at once impracticable and unimpor- 
tant, has been the great mischief both of the Christian church in gene- 
ral, and of the Church of England in particular, and haa brought abou 
in the latter that monstrous state of things in which a total Re- 
form can alone save it from total destruction. We now proceed then 
to consider the practicability of uniting in one national church men at- 
tached to various forms of church government. 

In proposing any alterations in this part of our system, we have at 
least this advantage ; that the present state of things is acceptable to 
no one. It is in fact a confessed anomaly, at once weak and unpopu- 
lar ; and has come to such a point of actual dissolution, that it has been 
made a question what the government of the Church of England is. 
Yet there exist prejudices which would be more shocked, perhaps, by 
any change than they are by the present system ; and these prejudices 
should be consulted as far as is possible, without interfering with the sub- 
stantial ends of all government. 

It is the fashion to complain of the great inequality which prevails 
in the Established Church ; but it is not very difficult to prove that 
there is not inequality enough ; — that the Church is like an army des- 
titute of non-commissioned officers, and therefore incapable of acting 
with sufficient effect, through this defect in its organization. In other 
words, as all classes of society require the services of the ministers of 
religion, the ministry should contain persons taken from all ; and in a 
national church, all the great divisions of the nation should have a share 
in the government. The Scotch Church fails in not reaching up to the 
level of the aristocracy ; the English Church, as Wesley saw, fails in 
not reaching down to the level of the poor : — the Roman Church, em- 
bracing in the wide range of its offices every rank of society, from the 
prince to the peasant, offers in this respect a perfect model. And if 
the scale of ascent be sufficiently gradual the Christian ministry thus 


fiimishes a beautiful chain to link the highest and the lowest together 
through the bond of their sacred office, without the absurdity of attempt- 
ing to bring both to the same level. 

But when we propose such a scale, we find that its highest and low. 
est points are vehemently objected to by opposite parties. On one side 
we have the old cry against prelacy, strengthened at this moment by a 
foolish political prejudice, and by the natural impatience of the lovers 
of evil at seeing Christianity advanced, as such, to situations of honour 
and influence. And on the other side, there is a dread of low-minded 
and uneducated teachers ; combined, perhaps, with some Jewish and 
Pagan confusion of the Christian ministry with the caste and family 
priesthoods of antiquity. The cry against a wealthy and dignified epis- 
copacy, is, where it is honest, the fruit of a whole series of mistakes 
and misconceptions. It is ridiculous to suppose, that the rulers of a so- 
ciety could ever have been, as a body, taken from the poorer members 
of it. The relation of the Apostles to the rest of the Church was wholly 
peculiar : men, so divinely giflcd, had a claim to authority, which set 
aside all considerations of wealth or poverty ; but the instant that these 
gifts ceased, wealth would be in itself a title to power ; and where 
merit was equal, a rich man would have made a more efficient bishop 
than a poor one. St. Paul requires a bishop to be '' given to hospita- 
lity ;" he must therefore have wherewith to exercise it. There is a 
great deal said in the New Testament against covetousness and self- 
indulgence ; but this is addressed to all Christians equally ; and if a lay- 
man does not conceive himself to be violating these commands by pos- 
sessing a considerable property, with what assurance can he press 
such an interpretation of them upon his neighbour, because he is a 
minister ? Some who inveigh against the wealth of the Church, mean- 
ing by that term, the clergy, and yet express great satisfaction in the 
wealth of the nation, which in this country is the Church, betray an 
ignorance and an inconsistency truly surprising : but an argument 
from misapplied texts of Scripture would be called superstition and folly, 
if it were urged in defence of tithes ; and truly it is no less fanatacism 
and folly, or folly and something worse, when it is used against the 
riches of the clergy, than when it is used in support of them. 

Equally unreasonable are the arguments against an order of ministers 
chosen from the poorer classes of society. That they must be gene- 
rally less educated than the ministers of a richer class, is clear ; and 
so far they would be inferior to them : nor is it intended that an uneducat- 
ed man should in any case bo the principal minister in a parish, as 
that would undo one of the chief benefits, so far as moral and social im- 
provement is concerned, of a national establishment. But there is an 


enormous advantage in giving all ranks of society their share in the 
administration of the Church : they would think that thej had an in- 
terest in a system which provided a place for them as well as for the 
rich ; but no man cares much about a system in which he is wholly 
passive ; in which he never acts himself, but is always the object of the 
care and regulations of others. The difference of the gifts possessed 
by the fbrst Christians, applies entirely by analogy, to us now : '* those 
members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary;" 
and more is gained by the variety of qualifications, than is lost by their 

But it is said that uneducated ministers would spread the most mis- 
chievous fanaticism. I ask, what is the case as things are now? 
Have we no fanatical teaching at present ? Now, if an uneducated 
man of serious impressions . feels that he can be useful to persons 
of his own sort, by pressing on their minds the truths which have 
improved and comforted his own he finds no place for himself in the 
Established Church. The clergyman of his parish would tell him 
to go to church and learn himself, instead of setting up to teach others. 
And no doubt he has enough to learn, but so have we all ; and it does 
not follow that he should be unfit to teach some, because there are others 
who could teach him. But, meanwhile, the result is, that whether fit 
or not, he does teach : the Toleration Act has settled this point. He 
may teach where and what he chooses, so long as he does not belong 
to the Establishment And of what use is it to say that the Church 
does not suffer from his ignorance, and is innocent of encouraging it ? 
The nation sufilers firom it so far as it is ignorance, and the National 
Church is therefore concerned in remedymg it. At present it exists un- 
checked and undirected, because the Church abandons it to itself: but if 
it were incorporated into its system, it would become immediately subject 
to control, and whilst all, and more than all, of its present usefulness 
was derived from it, its mischiefs would in a great degree be obviated. 

But the most essential step towards effecting this and every other im- 
provement in the Church, consists in giving to the laity a greater share 
in its ordinary government. 

The Bishop stands alone in his diocese, the Minister in his parish ; 
and so little are the laity associated with them ofi^cially in their opera- 
tions that the very word Church has lost its proper meaning, and is 
constantly used to express only the clerical members of it. The worst 
consequence of this, no doubt, is the unchristian distinction thus created 
between the clergy and the laity, to the equal injury of both ; but one 
considerable evil resulting from it is the annihilation of Church discipline. 
As long as the clergy have the whole administration of the Church in 

Fm m m jpj U Bi of chvxch bsiosm. 97 

their own hands, their power orer other men must be neutralised, or 
else we incur all the dangers of a system of priestcraft ; and for the 
same reason, if a bishop be the sole ruler of his diocese, he must be so 
shackled to prevent him from becoming a tyrant, as to be actulillj di- 
Tested of the powers essential to government. And so from a super- 
stition about what men fancy to be the divine right of Episcopacy, the 
Church has practically all but gone to pieces, from the want dT aj^y 
government at all. 

This want of government or of social organization in the Church 
has been one main cause of the multiplication of Dissenters. Men's 
social wants have not been satisfied ; — and a Christian Church which 
&ils in thb particular, neglects one of the most important ends of Chris- 
tianity. Consider the case of one of the parishes in a large manu&c- 
turing town ; there is a population of several thousand souls often com- 
prised nominally within the same subdivision of the whole Christian 
society of the nation ; but what is their organization and bond of union ? 
Perhaps one parish church, utterly unable to contain a fourth part of 
their numbers ; and one minister, who must be physically incapable of 
becoming personally acquainted with even so much as a smaller pro- 
portion of them. The other officers of the parochial society are the 
parish clerk, the churchwardens, the overseers of tjie poor, — ^how little 
like the deacons of old^ — the beadle and the constable ! What an or- 
ganization for a religious society I And how natural was it that men 
should form distinct societies for themselves, when that to which they 
nominally belonged performed none of the functions of a society. And 
even in those cases, where, by the exertions of the incumbent, in pro- 
viding one or more curates to assist him in his duty, by the endowment 
of chapels of ease, or the institutions of lectureships, the visitation of the 
sick in the parish is tolerably provided for ; — still the want of a social 
organization remains the same. The parishioners, except in questions 
about rates, never act as a body, nor fool as a body. They have no part 
in keeping up any religious discipline ; those amongst them who are 
qualified for instructing or exhorting their neighbours can do it only as 
individuals. The very church itself closed during the greater part of 
the day, perhaps of the week, is opened only for the performance of one 
uniform service, never to be added to, never to be varied. Even the 
singing, where alone some degree of liberty has been left to the con- 
gregation, is in some dioceses brought down to the same uniformity, 
and nothmg may be sung but the old and new versions of the Psalms of 
David. Thus the people are, as members of the Church, wholly pas- 
sive ; — the love of self-government, one of the best instincts in our na- 
ture, and one most opposite to the spirit of lawlessness, finds no place 


for its exercise ; they neither govern themselves, nor is there any one 
else to govern them. 

In order to an eflScient and comprehensive Church system, the first 
thing necessary is to divide the actual dioceses. A government must 
be feeble where one bishop, as is the case in the diocese of Chester, 
has the nominal superintendence over a tract of country extending in 
length above a hundred miles, and over a population of nearly two mil- 
lions of souls. Every large town should necessarily be the seat of a 
bishop, the bishopric thus created giving no seat in Parliament ; — and 
the addition of such an element into the society of a commercial or 
manufacturing place, would be in itself a great advantage ; — for, as in 
small cathedral towns, the society is at present much too exclusively 
clerical, so in towns like Manchester and Birmingham, the influence 
of the clergy is too little ; they are not in a condition to colour suffi- 
ciently the mass of a population whose employment is to make money. 
The present dioceses might then become provinces, or if it should be 
thought desirable to diminish the number of bishops in the House of 
Lords, the number retained might correspond to the number of pro- 
vinces which it might be found convenient to constitute, so that metro- 
politan bishops alone should have seats in Parliament. And for the new 
bishojfi-ics to be created, the deaneries throughout England would go a 
long way towards endowing them ; — ^while in many cases nothing more 
would be required, than to change the name and ofiice of the incum- 
bent of the principal parish in the town ? so that instead of being the 
minister of one church he should become the bishop of the diocese, the 
income of his oflice remaining the same as at present. 

The several dioceses throughout England being thus rendered effi- 
cient in point of extent and population, it would be next required to or- 
ganize their government. Episcopalians require that this should be 
episcopal ; the Dissenters of almost every denomination would insist 
that it should not be prelaticaL But it may be the first without being 
the last. Episcopacy may be regulated in two ways, so as to hinder 
it from being tyrannical ; either by withdrawing almost every matter 
from its jurisdiction, according to the system now pursued in England, 
or by uniting and tempering it with an admixture of more popular au- 
thorities. But of these two expedients the first is equally destructive 
of the power of a bishop for good as for evil ; the last would leave him 
at liberty to do good, but would merely restrain him from using his autho- 
rity amiss. For instance, a bishop should be incapable of acting with- 
out his council, and this council should consist partly of lay members, 
and partly of clerical, to be appointed partly by himself, and partly by 
the ministers and lay elders of the several parishes in his diocese. A 

ranroiPLBs of chvbch uvobm. M 

court would be thu« formed, to which the maintenance of discipline might 
be safely entrusted, and ministers of scandalous life might be removed 
from their benefices without the tedious and ruinous process now im- 
posed upon the bishop, if he is anxious to do his duty in such cases* 
Probably, too, it would be expedient to create something like a general 
assembly of the Church in each diocese, to meet at a certain time in the 
year, under the presidency of the bishop, and to enact such general re- 
gulations as might from time to time be needed. A meeting of this 
kind, even were its sittings ever so short, would be useful in the mere 
sensation that it would excite among the people ; as it would present 
the Church to them in a form at once imposing and attractive, and 
would destroy that most mischievous notion which the present visitations 
rather tend to encourage — that the Church is synonymous with the 
clergy. Again, either this general assembly, or the bishop and his ordi^ 
nary council, should have the power of increasing or reducing the num- 
ber of church officers in any particular parish, and of settling the limits 
of their respective ministrations. Where one man's constant ministry 
is sufficient, the occasional assistance of more may yet be desirable ; or 
or if not a public, yet a domestic ministry, in addition to the public one, 
may be useful ; that is, even in small country parishes there are oAen 
found men of serious character, who would be able and willing to |treach 
to their neighbours, and who do preach, as things are at present, but 
with this evil, that they preach by their own authority, and are un- 
avoidably led to feel themselves in opposition to the Establishment. 
Now, it is an obvious principle of every society, that men should not take 
its offices upon themselves without authority ; and many persons who are 
now self-constituted teachers, would gladly obtain a sanction to their mi- 
nistry, and would consent to put it under the regulation of the government 
of the Church, if such a recognition were rendered a thing easily obtaina- 
ble. But in large towns,all the Christian ministers of every denomination 
actually employed in them are certainly not more than adequate to the 
wants of the population. That these could not be all maintained out 
of the funds of the present establishment is manifest ; it is possible that 
some may be ; and it is also possible that some gratuitous assistance 
might be rendered by persons who, having another trade or profession, 
were not wholly dependent on the ministry for support. But as the 
dissenting ministers are actually maintained by voluntary contributions, 
so the assistant ministers of a more comprehensive system, whether 
their opinions were in exact agreement with the present articles or not, 
would be easily, and I believe, most cheerfully maintained by Easter 
ofierings, levied upon all the members of the Church, and divided ac- 
cording to the qualifications and labours of the respective ministers. 


And as these would all be equally ministers of the National Church, the j 
would have their share in the election of the clerical members of the 
bishop's council, and would be effectually secured against any lurking 
spirit of sectarian hostility which might be supposed to survive the 
overthrow of the present sectarian system. 

But it may be said that a difficulty would arise as to the manner in 
which these ministers should be appointed ; their election by their con- 
gregations being as odious to one class of persons, as it is dear to an- 
other. It seems to me desirable that a national Church should com- 
prehend in itself many various ways of appointment ; and that whilst 
the patronage of the existing benefices should on no account be dis- 
turbed, whether it be vested in the crown, or in corporate bodies, or 
in private individuals ; yet, that where there is no endowment, and the 
minister is paid by a general contribution, the principle of election may 
fitly be allowed. But the actual abuses of all patronage, whether in- 
dividual or popular, might easily be obviated by certain general regula- 
tions. It is a great evil, that a worthless individual, whether nominat- 
ed by a private patron, or chosen by a misguided majority, should im- 
mediately and without further question enter upon his ministry. All 
patronage should be strictly recommendatory, and no more ; the patron 
or electors should send the object of their choice to the bishop and his 
council, or, if it were thought fit, to another distinct tribunal, appointed 
by them ; and here his qualifications should undergo a most rigid scru- 
tiny. If he were rejected, the patron should recommend another can- 
didate ; but never should his recommendation, or the election of the 
inhabitants, be deemed equivalent to an actual appointment. And even 
when confirmed by the Church authorities, it should still be, in the first 
instance, only provisional, for one year ; that during that time he might 
be tried in actual service, and if any just ground of objection existed 
against him, which might well happen, without supposing any such mis- 
conduct as should warrant his removal from an office conferred for life, 
the appointment might be either wholly cancelled, according to the na- 
ture of the case, or the term of probation extended to a longer period. 

In suggesting that the qualifications of every person recommended to 
a benefice should be rigorously scrutinized, I am far from meaning 
that he should be subjected to an examination. Examinations can only 
be fitly applied to young men, and then: proper place is previous to ordi- 
nation, not when a man, after having been ordained, is to be appointed 
to some particular cure. Yet, in a matter of such importance, every 
security is needed ; and more is required than the present system of 
testimonials, not only from their proved insufficiency, but because the 
people should have a more direct check than they have at present on 

tmatctrum of chvsch sstobm. 101 

the nomination of their ministers. It should be the dtitj of the parish 
authorities, both laj and clerical, to report fully to the bishop's council, 
all that thej can collect as to the character and general fitness of the 
person recommended bj the patron. For instance, a senior fellow of 
a college, however irreproachable in his character, may, from his in- 
active and retirecl habits, be an unfit person to be appointed minister of 
a populous parish in a large town. It would be the duty of the parish 
authorities to represent this to the bishop's council ; and in some cases 
the objection might be so strong, owing to local circumstances, as to 
render it proper to reject the person proposed altogether. But in every 
case it would be desirable that the appointment should, in the first in- 
stance, be only temporary, that it might be seen how the individual 
could accommodate himself to a life so different from his past one, 
whether his previous habits were or were not alterable. And we may be 
sure that the' working of every system will be so much more indulgent 
than the theory, that we never need fear an excess of strictness ; do 
what we will, considerations of good-nature and kindness to an indi- 
vidual will always prevail in the long-run over the sense of public duty. 
The Church government then would be made more efficient, and at 
the same time, more popular than it is at present ; 1, By reducing the 
size of the dioceses : 2, By giving the bishc^ a council consbting of 
lay members and of clerical, and partly elected by the officers of the 
respective parishes ; which officers should themselves also be lay and 
clerical, and for the most part elected directly by the inhabitants : 3, 
By the institution of diocesan general assemblies : 4, By admitting 
into the Establishment, persons of a class much too poor to support the 
expense of an university education ; but who may be exceedingly use- 
ful as ministers, and who do preach at present, but under circum- 
stances which make them necessarily hostile to the National Church, and 
leave them utterly at liberty to follow their own caprices : 5, By al- 
lowing in many cases the election of ministers, and by giving to the 
inhabitants of the parish in every case, a greater check over their ap- 
pointment than they at present enjoy : and 6, By constituting church 
officers in every parish, lay as well as clerical, who should share with 
the principal minister in its superintendence ; and thus effect generally 
that good, which in London and elsewhere is now being attempted by 
individual zeal, in the establishment of district visiting societies. Whilst 
by rendering the Articles far more comprehensive than at present, ac- 
cording to what was said in the earlier part of this sketch, those who 
are now Dissenting ministers might at once become ministers of the 
Establishment, and as such would of course have their share in its 


It will be observed, that the whole of this scheme supposes an epis* 
copal government, and requires that all ministers should receive epis- 
copal ordination. The Establishment is entitled surely to this conces- 
sion from the Dissenters, especially when Episcopacy will have been 
divested of all those points against which their objections have been 
particularly levelled. Besides, there are many members of the Estab- 
lishment who believe Episcopacy not expedient only, but absolutely es- 
sential to a Christian Church : and their scruples are entitled to quite 
as much respect as those of the Dissenters. And when experience has 
shown that Episcopalians will be satisfied if the mere name of bishop 
is preserved — for nothing can be more different in all essential points, 
than our Episcopacy and that of the primitive Church — and as this 
name is recommended not only by its ancient and almost universal use 
throughout Christendom, but by its familiarity to ourselves, and its 
long existence in our own constitution, there seems every reason why 
it should be retained, — and why those who may have objected to a pre- 
late lording it over Christ's Church with absolute authority, may readi- 
ly acknowledge the limited authority of a bishop, the president of his 
council of elders, supreme in rank, but controlled effectually in power. 

This, perhaps, may be the fittest place to notice the clamour in which 
the Dissenters have blindly joined the unbelievers, against the bishops 
holding seats in the House of Lords. Never was there a question on 
which fanaticism and narrow-mindedness have so completely played 
into the hands of wickedness. The very notion of the House of 
Lords, is that of an assembly embracing the highest portions of the 
most eminent professions or classes of society. Accordingly, it con- 
tains, speaking generally, the most considerable of the landed pro- 
prietors of the kingdom, the most distinguished individuals in the army 
and navy ; and in like manner a certain number of the heads of the 
clerical profession, and of the law. It is not that the Lord Chancellor 
and the Bishops are the representatives of their respective professions, 
in the sense of being placed in Parliament to look afler their particular 
interests ; nor is it at all for the sake of the clergy or the lawyers that 
they sit in the House of Peers, but for the sake of the nation ; that the 
highest national council may have the benefit of their peculiar know- 
ledge, and peculiar views of life. Now it is manifest, that all of what 
are called the liberal professions, exercise a certain influence over the 
minds of those who follow them both for good and for evil ; — for evil, 
so far a^ they lead to exclusiveness — for good, inasmuch as they foster 
particular faculties of the mind, and give an especial power of appre- 
dating and enforcing one class of important truths. As then, in an 
assembly consisting of men of one profession only, the evil influence 


becomes predomtnant, and pedantry and narrow-mindedness are sure 
to be its characteristics ; so when men of difierent professions are 
mixed, the evil of a professional spirit is neutralized, while its advan* 
tages remain in full force ; and in proportion to the greater number of 
professions thus brought together in one assembly, will be the univer- 
sality of its tone, and at the same time the soundness of its particular 

Lord Henley, therefore, labours under a double error when he sup- 
poses that the revival of any sort of ecclesiastical synod or convoca- 
tion could be a substitute for the sitting of the bishops in Parliament, 
and when he talks of allowing the bishops to vote only on such ques- 
tions as concern the Churclu A synod or convocation might look as 
effectually after the interests of the clergy ; but how would it compen- 
sate for the removal of one important element from the constitution of 
our highest national assembly 1 And again, when he speaks of ques- 
tions which concern the Church, he means questions about the duties 
and payment of the clergy — an important part certainly of Church 
questions — ^but by no means the most important, still less the only 
ones. According to this narrow view of the meaning of the woid 
Church, the bishops may vote upon a curate's salary bill, or a church 
building act ; but the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, 
and truth, are questions which affect the Church no more than the 
Royal Society. In other words, it concerns not the Church whether 
its members are involved in the guilt and misery of an unnecessary 
war, — whether their laws are regardless of human life, and multiply 
temptations to crime ; — whether, in short, their institutions and form of 
society are favourable to their moral advancement, or tend, on the con- 
trary, to debase and to harden them. 

But, says Lord Henley, the Divine Founder of the Church has de- 
clared that his kingdom was not of this world, and he " refused to give 
sentence in a criminal cause of adultery, and in a civil one of dividing 
an inheritance," p. 49. It might make Lord Henley and other good 
men a little suspicious of the applicability of our Lord's words to the 
present question, if they would remember how favourite a text they 
are with men who scarcely know any single declaration of our Lord's 
besides this, and who clearly and almost avowedly fear nothing so 
much as that the world should really become his kingdom. But first 
of all, if Christ's kingdom be not of this world, in the only sense 
which applies to the present question, if his Church may have nothing 
to do with making and repealing laws, approving of peace and war, 
imposing taxes, and other such matters, it follows distinctly, not that 
every clergyman, but that every Christian, should instantly be excluded 



iroin the Throne, from Parliament, and from everj public office what- 
ever,, whether civil or military* We should require from members of 
Parlistment no declarations against transiihgitantiation,— but simply a 
protestalioti that they did not belong to the kingdom of Christ, but 
were, and would remain so, faifhrul suljjects of the kingdom of the 
world, and bound to do the god of this world true and undivided ser- 
vice. It is perfectly inconceivable how a man like Lord Henley can 
go on, page atler page, using the w^ord ** Chtjrch " to signify the clergy, 
when he must know it is never used so in the New Testament ; and 
that every passage w^hich he quotes against mixing in secular aflkirs, 
applies exactly as much to the Lord Chancellor and the Commander- 
in-Chief, if they are Christians, as to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 

Lord Henley objects to " the example of such Jewish prccedenta as 
Eli and Ezra," p. 49. By what strange perversity does it happen, that 
the party to which Lord Henley seems to belong, should refuse to ac- 
knowledge the authority of Old Testament precedents, in the very 
case where they are really applicable, and yet should be for ever ap- 
pealing to them where they are not applicable at all ? Eli and Ezra are 
in this matter far more to the purpose than Paul, or Peter, or John ; 
because, in their days, as in ours, the kingdom of God was a kingdom 
of the world also ; whereas, in the days of the apostles it waa not so. 
It is absolutely ridiculous in a countr)^ where Christianity is said to be 
the law of the land, — whore all our institutions acknowledge it, and 
our kings are actually anointed before the altar, — to quote as applicable 
the state of the Christians of the first century, whose religion neces- 
sarily drew them away from all public duties, because heathenism and 
heathen principles were so mixed up with all the institutions of Rome, 
that every public office involved some compliance with tiicm, 

It is again a most groundless superstition, and one which at once 
occasioned and has been increased by the mischievous confusion of the 
Christian mijiistry with a priesthood^ that any thing can be lawful for 
a Christian layman which is unlawful for a Christian minister* As 
the ministers are in a manner picked out from the whole Christian 
body, it may be within possibility to exact from them a higher stan- 
dard of practice than can be enforced generally; but this is no more 
than saying, " w^hat all ought he, we will take care that sofne at least 
shall 6e,*' If any ono looks at the qualifications required by St, Paul 
in the ministers of the Church, 1 Tim. iii. 1-10* Titus i. 6-9, he will 
find amongst them no esoteric purity of life or fulness of knowledge ; 
but the virtues of a good man, a good public offjcer, and a good Chris- 
tian ; the virtues which become, and are to be expected of*, every one in- 
Tested with authority in the Church of God, whether his peculiar minis. 


ntnroiFLu of oKimcaEi uifobm. 105 

try be on the seat of justice, or at the altar, or in the general goy- 
emraeltot of the whole society. 

But because these virtues are now become rare, because there may 
be found in the other ministries of the Church, men who do not ac- 
knowledge their obligation, therefore it is the more important that they 
who are called ministers in a peculiar sense, the ministers at the altar, 
should be put forward in situations where they can most loudly and 
most efficiently enforce them. And this is the great reason why the 
clergy ought to sit in both houses of Parliament, and why the enemies 
of Christianity, who well understand the interests of their Master, 
would gladly exclude them from both. It is because they are not 
priests, but Christians ; because they hold and know no esoteric doc- 
trine ; because they are required to practise no virtue beyond the rest 
of their brethren, but yet because their profession obliges them to know 
what Christianity is, and public opinion, to take the lowest ground, 
hinders them from utterly casting it off in their practice, that therefore 
they are wanted in the national assembly of a professedly Christian 
nation. What we ought to calculate on in every member of the legis- 
lature — namely, that he should speak and act on Christian principles 
we are obliged now to look for from those who are bound to be Chris- 
tians by a double profession, by their ordination as well as their bap- 
tism. In proportion to the proved insufficiency of one of these se- 
curities singly, is the need of applying to the combined strength of 

But what if the salt has lost its savour ; if in point of fact the 
bishops have not thus diffused the influence of Christianity through the 
House of Lords : whose has been the fault, and what is its remedy ? 
Was not the fault theirs, who for so many years, I may almost say so 
many generations, made the appointment of a bishop a mere matter of 
patronage ; or, at the best, the reward of ability and knowledge dis- 
played on some mere abstract question of theology ? Was not, and 
is not, the &ult theirs, who, some in fraud and others in simplicity, 
adopting Lord Henley's confusion about the word Church, would con- 
fine the bishops to speaking on merely professional subjects, and would 
accuse them of meddling with secular matters, if they were to en- 
deavour to christianize the laws or the measures of the government ? 
Is not the fault, above all, theirs, who, retaining the system of transla- 
tion for the sake of their own patronage, place the bishops in a situa- 
tion of certain suspicion, and of unfair temptation ? And is it not the 
most obvious remedy to do away at once and entirely with the system 
of translations, and thus to make the bishops the most independent of 



any men in the House of Lords. For a lay lord, if he is an able and 
active man, may hope to rise to power by displacing an existing minis- 
try, .or by supporting them ; a bishop, if translations were at an end, 
would have nothing to hope for from courtliness or from faction : he 
could gain nothing by basely voting for the government, — ^nothing by 
ambitiously and unfairly molesting them. 

This digression, if such it can be called, has somewhat interrupted 
the main divisions of my argument ; but it is naturally connected with 
the question of Church Government, and no part of the whole subject 
has been so mistakenly and so mischievously handled. I now return 
to the third division of my inquiry : whether it be not possible to unite 
in one Church great varieties of ritual, — in other words, whether uni- 
formity of worship has been wisely made the object of our ecclesiasti- 
cal legislation. 

The friends of the Established Church justly extol the substantial 
excellence and beauty of the liturgy. It can indeed hardly be praised 
too highly as the solemn service of the Church embodying one of the 
best representations of the feelings and language of a true Christian, 
in his confessions, his thanksgiving, and his prayers. But as, while 
we reverence the Bible above all other books, we yet should never 
think of studying it to the exclusion of all others, so, and much more, 
may we say of the liturgy, that even allowing it to be the best con- 
ceivable religious service in itself^ still it ought not to be the only one. 
The liturgy of the Church of England, with some few alterations, 
which I need not here specify, should be used once on every Sunday 
and every great Christian holiday throughout the year, in every parish 
church in England. But I doubt whether there are not many, even 
amongst its most sincere admirers, who in a second service on the 
same day, would be glad of some variety, — still more who would wish 
to vary the service according to the time and circumstances, when the 
church was opened on week days. Indeed I hardly know a more pain- 
ful sight than the uninterrupted loneliness in which our churches are so 
often left from one Sunday to another. The very communion table and 
pulpit are dismantled of their coverings and cushions ; the windows are 
closed ; the doors fast locked, as if a Protestant church, except on a Sun- 
day, were like the Pelasgicum at Athens, " best when unfrequented."* 
Now this has arisen partly, no doubt, from other causes ; but the neces- 
sity of reading the Liturgy, and nothing but the Liturgy, both at morn- 
ing and evening prayer, is an invincible obstacle to the opening of the 
Churches generally with any eflfect, except on a Sunday. It is doubt- 

* Td UtXavyiKdv dpydv intiw. Thacyd. II. 17. 

pinraiHJM of ohitbcx xbfobm. 107 

fill whether our arrangement of our time, and the unirertal pressure of 
boainesB, would allow of the attendance of a large congregation at 
church on week dajs, under any circumstances ; but it is certain, that 
in order to overcome these disadvantages, something more attractive is 
needed than the mere uniform reading of the same prayers, and going 
through the same forms day afler day, both in the morning and the 
evening. Nor should I think it an evil, but a great good, that differ- 
ent services should be performed at different times of the day and week^ 
within the walls of the same church. Not only do the various tastes 
and degrees of knowledge amongst men require varieties in the fom 
of their religious services, but the very same men are not always in 
the mood for the same things : there are times when we should feel 
most in unison with the deep solemnity of the Liturgy ; there are 
times also, when we should better enjoy a freer and more social ser- 
vice ; and for the sake of the greater familiarity, should pardon some 
insipidity and some extravagance. And he who condemns this feel- 
ing, does but lose his labour, and can but ill appreciate one great attri- 
bute of God's works, — their endless variety. Our sight, our hearing 
and our taste, are furnished with subjects of gratification, not of one 
kind only, but of millions ; the morning song of the lark is not the 
same with the evening song of the nightingale : the scenery which 
we most enjoy in the full brightness of a summer day, is not that which 
best harmonizes with the solemnity of an autumn evening. 

Now, considering that some persons would like nothing but the Lit- 
urgy, that others, on the contrary, can endure no prayers but such as 
are extemporaneous, — ^that many more have a preference for one prac- 
tice or the other, but not so as to wish to be confined to the exclusive 
use of it, there seems to be no reason why the National Church 
should not enjoy a suflicient variety in its ritual, to satisfy the opinions 
and feelings of all. In a parish where there was but one minister, he 
might read the Liturgy on Sunday mornings, while on Sunday evenings, 
and on week days, he might v^ry the service according to his discre- 
tion and the curcumstances of the case. But where there were several 
ministers, as there would be wherever there are now ministers of 
difilerent denominations, the church might be kept open nearly the whole 
of the Sunday, and we may hope, during some part at least of every 
week day ; — ^the dififerent services being fixed at different hours, and 
performed by different ministers. And he judges untruly of human 
nature, who does not see that the peculiarities which men now cling 
to and even exaggerate, as the badge and mark of their own sect, 
would then soon sink into their proper insignificance when nothing 


was to be gained bj dwelling on them. Good men, feeling that thej 
might express their opinions freelj, and that their silence could not be 
misconstrued into fear or insincerity, would gladly listen to their better 
nature, which would teach them how much they had in common with 
one another, and how infinitely their points of agreement surpassed in 
importance their points of difierence. And instead of an unseemly 
scene of one minister preaching against another, we should probably 
have an earnest union in great matters, and a manly and delicate for- 
bearance as to points of controversy, such as would indeed become the 
disciples of Him, who is in equal perfection the God of truth and the 
God of love. 

It may appear to some a point of small importance, but I believe 
that it would go a long way towards producing a kindly and united 
feeling amongst all the inhabitants of the parish, that the parish church 
should, if possible, be the only place of public worship ; and that the 
different services required, should rather be performed at different 
times in the same spot than at the same time in different places. In 
this respect, the spirit of the Mosaic law may be most usefully follow- 
ed, which forbade the multiplication of temples and altars, but fixed on 
one spot to become endeared and hallowed to the whole people as the 
scene of their common worship. Besides the parish church has a 
sacredness which no other place of worship can boast of, in its anti- 
quity, and in its standing amidst the graves of so many generations of 
our fathers. It is painful to think that any portion of the people should 
have ever broken their connexion with it ; it would be equally delight- 
ful to see them again assembled within its walls, without any base 
compromise of opinion on either side, but because we had learned a better 
wisdom than to deprive it of its just claim to the affections of all our 
countrymen, or to exclude any portion of our countrymen from the 
happiness of loving it as it deserves. Nor is it a light thing in the 
judgments of those who understand the ennobling efifects of a quick 
perception of what is beautiful and vejierable, that some of the most 
perfect specimens of architecture in existence should no longer be con- 
nected, in any man's mind, with the bitterness of sectarian hostility ; 
that none should be forced to associate, with their most solemn and 
dearest recollections, such utter coarseness and deformity as character- 
ize the great proportion of the Dissenting chapels throughout Eng- 

The appointment of various services in the same church, would not 
only be desirable in itself, but would also obviate the necessity of alter- 
ing our own Liturgy, in order to enable the Dissenters to join in it ; 
for even if we could overcome their objections to any Liturgy whatever, 


as such, still the differences of mere taste between different classes of 
people are so great, as to render it impossible to contrive any one ser- 
vice such as should be satis&ctory to one party without a needful sacri- 
fice of what is a great source of pleasure to the other. For instance, 
some of the Dissenters object to an organ, and to all but the simplest 
kinds of church music : yet it would be very unreasonable to pulldown 
our organs, and to banish our anthems, and all the magnificence of our 
cathedral service, without considering that numerous class who feel as 
much delighted and edified by these things as others are offended at 
them. On the other hand, it is quite as unreasonable, and much more 
unchristian, to make a difference of taste a reason for continuing divis- 
ions in the Church of God. There is no reason why all should not be 
gratified without quarreling with each other ; why the organ should 
not sound at the morning service, and be silent in the evening : why 
the same roof which had rung at one part of the day with the rich 
music of a regular choir, should not at another resound with the 
simpler but not less impressive singing of a mixed congregation. 

Such, as it seems to me, is the reform really needed ; to make the 
Church truly and effectually the " Church of England." Many points, 
about which there is the loudest clamour, I have passed over without 
notice ; — partly, because for these there have been remedies proposed 
by other writers, — and partly, because I hold them to be utterly 
subordinate grievances when compared to the monstrous evil of 
sectarianism. The evil of pluralities is like that of sinecures and 
unmerited pensions in the state ; — it should be removed, because it is 
unseemly and discreditable ; but it is only folly or bad faith which 
would rank it amongst the most serious practical mischiefs of our ec- 
clesiastical system. The inequality of ranks and emoluments in the 
Church, like that existing also in the whole frame of our Society, is 
probably excessive ; but is a far less evil than the platform of equality 
to which some would reduce it. Even non-residence itself, — by which 
I mean the non-residence of any minister of the Establishment, 
whether incumbent or curate, happens accidentally to be only of infe- 
rior importance, because it generally exists in the country parishes, 
where the amount of population is small. Destroy it altogether, and 
the efficiency of the Church would be increased in a scarcely per. 
ceptible degree ; for its great inefficiency as a national establishment 
arbes from other causes, — from the enormous population of the towns, 
where the minister of the parish is generally resident, but utterly in- 
capable of doing the work which he is nominally set to perform, — and 
from that other large masses of population, to whom the ministers of 


the Establishment are nothing, whether resident or not, because they 
have separated themselves from the national communion. With re- 
gard to the cry about the bishops, translation is certainly Indefensible, 
and its utter extinction highly needful : some means also should be 
taken to increase the revenue of the poorer bishoprics ; and for this 
object something probably might well be spared from the revenue of 
those that are richest. But the sitting of the bishops in Parliament 
is a great national good ; and a multiplication of their number, with a 
remodelling of their power, so as to give the Church a real episco- 
pal government, is the reform of their order most needed and most 

Nor have I said a word on the great question of Tithes, because I 
have reason to believe the question is in other and far abler hands. 
All acknowledge the odiousness of the present manner of payment ; — 
but the problem hitherto has been, how to provide for it an adequate 

But, suppose Tithes to be commuted, — the revenues of the clergy 
equalized, — residence universally enforced, — and pluralities done away 
with, the efficiency of the Establishment, as a great social engine of 
intellectual, moral, and religious good, will still be incomplete, — and for 
this very reason its stabiltty will be precarious. There will still re- 
main that vast mass of the dissenting and of the godless population, 
who not sharing in its benefits, will labour to effect its destruction* 
These two parties are leagued together ; and unless their league can 
be dissolved, the long continuance of a national Church in this country 
is a thing impossible. The cry which is destroying the Protestant Es- 
tablishment in Ireland is already beginning to be echoed here : the 
Dissenters repeat the complaint of the Catholics, — " Why should we 
be obliged to contribute towards the maintenance of a Church which is 
not ours ?" All the inherent evils of our detestable sectarian system will 
presently be brought to light, and will derange the very frame of so. 
ciety. Church rates have been already resisted ; — that is to say, the 
noblest and most useful of all our public buildings will be suffered to go 
to ruin, or to be maintained by private munificence. Marriage, the 
most important of all social ordinances, will be made a private cere- 
mony ; — for such must be the character of a rite performed without the 
intervention of any public officer ; whether that officer be a magis- 
trate or a clergyman, may be a question of comparative indifference ; 
W in either case society sanctions, and in a manner presides at the 
celebration of its holiest contract ; but a Dissenting minister is a mere 
private individual, or rather an alien from the national society, to whoso 


acts society lends no authority. The registration of births, marriagesi 
and deaths, a thing essentially of national concern, and to be placed 
under the control of public officers, is already claimed by the Dissent- 
ers as a right to be enjoyed by their own communities separately. Our 
universities, the great seats of public education, are in danger of be- 
coming odious, because they are practically closed against so large a 
portion of the community ; — while the evils of Dissenting colleges, 
pledged by their very name to narrow-mindedness, will continue to 
multiply. The end of all this will bo, what the godless party are ear- 
nestly labouring to efiect, the dissolution of the Establishment altogether ; 
— ^that is, in other words, the public renouncing of our allegiance to 
God ; for, without an Establishment, although it may happen that the 
majority of Englishmen may still be Christians, yet England will not 
be a Christian nation ; — its government will be no Christian govern- 
ment ; — we shall be wholly a kingdom of the world, and ruled accord- 
ing to none but worldly principles. In such a state the establishment 
of paganism would be an absolute blessing ; anything would be better 
than a national society, formed for no higher than physical ends ; — to 
enable men to eat, drink, and live luxuriously ; — acknowledging no 
power greater than its own, and by consequence, no law higher than 
its own municipal enactments. Let a few generations pass over in 
such a state, and the missionary who should preach the worship of 
Ceres, or set up an oracle of Apollo, or teach the people to kindle the 
eternal fire of Vesta on the common altar hearth of their country, would 
be to that degraded society as life from the dead.* 

But we are told to look at America ; the United States have no na- 
tional religion ; but yet we are assured that they are as religious a peo- 

* I cannot resist the pleasure of copying here the beautiful lines in which Mr. 
Wordsworth sympathizes so entirely with the feeling expressed in the text: — 
" The world is too much with us ; late and soon, 
Gretting and spending, we lay waste our powers ; 
Little we see in nature that is ours ; 
Wo have given our hearts away, a sordid boon ! 
This sea, that bears her bosom to the moon ; 
The winds, that will be howling at all hours, 
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers ; 
For this, for everything, we are out of tune ; 
It moves us not Great Grod ! I*d rather be 
A pagan suckled in a creed out- worn ; j 

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea. 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn ; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea. 
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.** 


pie as ourselves. When a man of science hears a fact asserted in di- 
rect contradiction to the known laws of nature, he cannot but suspect 
some misrepresentation or confusion in the statement. To assert that 
the irregular efforts of individual zeal and courage will oppose an in- 
vading enemy as effectually as a good regular army, would be little 
better than insanity ; and yet it may be true, that in the last war the 
Spanish guerillas did more service to their country than the Spanish 
regular armies. We know, however, that the guerillas did not, and 
could not deliver Spain ; it was an efficient regular army which 
achieved that work. So, if it could be shown that under any circum- 
stances Christianity was flourishing as much without an Establishment 
as with one, it would merely prove that the particular Establishment 
in question was in a state of deplorable corruption, as it had so com- 
pletely forfeited its inherent advantages. But in the alleged instance 
of the United States, we forget that " America" is, in the first place, 
a very vague word, and that in those parts of the Union in which reli- 
gion is in the healthiest state, there is what is almost equivalent to an 
Establishment ; that is, every man is obliged to contribute to a fund for 
religious instruction, but he has his choice as to the particular sect to 
which his quota is to be paid. Again, the Episcopal Church in New York 
is an endowed church ; it still possesses the lands assigned to it by the 
British government, previously to the revolution. It may well be then that 
in New York, and in some of the New England states, the people may be 
more religious than in the great towns of England ; but this concludes 
in favour of an Establishment, not against one ; because there is an 
Establishment, or what amounts to nearly the same thing, in these 
parts of the United States, whereas there is virtually none in our great 
towns ; so utterly inadequate is the supply of ministers to the demands 
of the ever-growing population. But if it be asserted, that in the south- 
ern and western states, society is in as healthy a state morally and reli* 
giously as in those parts of England where the Church is enabled to 
be efficient, then I should deny the fact altogether. With all the ad- 
vantages enjoyed by America, as to the physical condition of her people, 
with her prodigious extent of available land, and her as yet compara- 
'tively scanty population, rendering the temptation to offences against 
property far less than it can be in an old and fully peopled country ; still 
the world has as yet produced no instance of society advancing under a 
less promising aspect, intellectual, moral, and religious, than in the 
new states and territories of the American union. 

But if we with our overflowing population and narrow limits were 
wilfully to plunge ourselves into the moral and religious state of south- 
ern and western America, the evils of their condition would be raulti- 


plied a thousand-fold here. Crowded together as we are, we cannot 
afford to be disorderly ; it is well if, with all the aid of the most power- 
ful and the purest institutions, we can organise and keep from taint the 
unwieldy masses of our population. And as the best of all institutionsr 
I am anxious to secure a truly national Church, which, uniting within 
itself all Christians who deserve the name, except perhaps the mere 
handful of the Quakers and Roman Catholics, would leave without its 
pale nothing but voluntary or involuntary godlessness. We should 
hear no complaints then of the burden of supporting a Church to which 
men do not belong. Such language in a Dissenter's mouth is forcible ; 
but who would heed it from a man who belonged to no church, who 
paid no minister of his own, — but hating God altogether, was consist- 
ently averse to contributing towards his service ? Truly we may wait 
a long time before we shall find the thieves of a country willing to pay 
for the building of gaols, or the maintenance of an efficient police. 

But, it may be said, admitting the soundness of the principles put for- 
ward in these pages, that the National Church should be rendered tho- 
roughly comprehensive in doctrine, in government, and in ritual, by 
what power are they to be carried into effect ? To whose hands in par- 
ticular, should be committed the delicate task of remodelling the Arti- 
cles, a measure obviously essential to the proposed comprehension, yet 
presenting the greatest practical difficulty ? It seems to me that this is 
a question more properly to be answered by the Government, than by 
an individual ; only, I may be allowed to express an earnest hopoy 
that if ever an union with Dissenters be attempted, and it should thus 
become necessary to alter our present terms of communion, the deter- 
mining on the alterations to be made should never be committed to 
a convocation or to any commission consisting of clergymen alone. 
It is the more needful to express this opinion strongly, because Lord 
Henley, while himself looking forward to an extension of the pale of 
the Church, declares that this is " exclusively a theological and eccle- 
siastical duty, and that no layman can take, or should desire to take* 
any part in the execution of it." So completely does his confused no- 
tion of what is meant by the Church pervade and vitiate every part of 
his work. Well has Mr. Hull * observed, with reference to this notion, 
that, " it breathes too little sense of Protestant responsibility." ** We 
cannot be justified," he adds, '*in neglecting the public service of our 
Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier ; and must, therefore, at our 
own peril, look well to the method in which that public service is con- 
ducted and maintained." Laymen have no right to shifl from their own 

• " Thoughts on Church Reform.'* Londoa : Fellowes, 1832. 


shoulders an import&nt part of Christian responsibility; and as no 
educated la3nnan individually is justified in taking his own faith upon 
trust from a clergyman, so neither are the laity, as a body, warranted 
in taking the national faith in the same way. If ever it should be 
thought right to appoint commissioners to revise the Articles, it is of 
paramount importance, in order to save the plan from utter failure, that 
a sufficient number of laymen, distinguished for their piety and enlarged 
views, should be added to the ecclesiastical members of the commission. 
Professional learning, if not sufficiently tempered with the straight-for« 
ward views of a plain and sensible piety, would be absolutely mis- 
chievous ; as it would lead men to retain the language of former con- 
troversies, where it is most important, both for the sake of truth and 
charity, that the statement should be general and should adopt no tech- 
nical terms whatever in declaring doctrines, beyond such as may be 
used in the Scriptures themselves. 

As for the proposed constitution of the government and ritual* of the 
Church, this would be naturally and in the first place the subject of 
legislative enactment ; nor would it be more difficult to draw up the 
necessary details in this case, than it was found to bo in the case of the 
Reform Bill. Care and attention would of course be requisite ; and 
information on many points must be sought from persons locally or pro- 
fessionally qualified to furnish it ; but there is nothing in the subject 
mat er itself which can render the previous report of any other autho- 
rity necessary, before the question is submitted by the king's Govern- 
mei t to the consideration and decision of Parliament. 

In venturing even to suggest so great a change in the constitution of 
our Church, I may probably expose myself to a variety of imputations. 
Above all, whoever pleads in favour of a wide extension of the terms of 
communion, is immediately apt to be accused of latitudinarianism, or 
as it is now called, of liberalism. Such a charge in the mouths of men 
at once low principled and ignorant, is of no importance whatever ; 
neither should I regard it if it proceeded from the violent fanatical party, 
to whom truth must ever remain unknown, as it is unsought afler. 
But in the Church of England even bigotry of\en wears a sofler and a 
nobler aspect ; and there are men at once pious, high minded, intelli- 
gent, and full of all kindly feelings, whose intense love for the forms of 
the Church, fostered as it has been by all the best associations of their 

♦ By •• ritual" I do not mean the alterations to be made in the Litra-gy, and which 
would be ihf proper buBiness of the commission appointed to revise the Articles ; but 
only the repealing those laws which permit nothing but the liturgy to be read in the 
Church, and enjoin that it shall be read itself both at Morning and Evenmg Prayer. 

nuHomsB OF chuboh xsfobx. 115 

pure and hoi j lives, has absolutelj engrossed their whole nature ; they 
hare neither eyes to see of themselyes any defect in the Liturgy or 
Articles, nor ears to hear of such when alleged by others. It can be 
no ordinary church to have inspired such a deroted adoration in such 
men ; — nor are they ordinary men over whom the sense of high moral 
beauty has obtained so complete a mastery. They will not, I fear, be 
willing to beliere how deeply painful it is to my mind, to know that I 
am regarded by them as an adversary ; still more to feel that I am 
associated in their judgments with principles and with a party which I 
abhor as deeply as they do. But while I know the devotedness of their 
admiration for the Church of England, as it is now constituted, I can- 
not but wish that they would regard those thousands and ten thousands 
of their countrymen, who are excluded from its benefit ; that they would 
consider the wrong done to our common country by these unnatural 
divisions amongst her children. The Church of Christ is indeed &r 
beyond all human ties ; but of all human ties, that to our country is the 
highest and most sacred : and England, to a true Englishman, ought to 
be dearer than the peculiar forms ofthe Church of England. 

For the sake, then, of our country, and to save her from the greatest 
possible evils, — from evils &r worse than any loss of territory, or de« 
cline of trade, — ^from the sure moral and intellectual degradation which 
will accompany the unchristianizing of the nation, that is, the destroy, 
ing of its national religious establishment, is it too much to ask of good 
men, that they should consent to unite themselves with other good men, 
without requiring them to subscribe to their own opinions, or to con- 
ferm to their own ceremonies .? They are not asked to surrender or 
compromise the smallest portion of their own &ith, but simply to fer- 
bear imposing it upon their neighbours. They are not called upon to 
give up their own forms of worship, but to allow the addition of others; 
not for themselves to join in it, if they do not like to do so, but simply 
to be celebrated in the same church, and by ministers, whom they 
shall acknowledge to be their brethren, and members no less than 
themselves of the National Establishment. The alterations which 
should be made in their own Liturgy should be such as, to use Bishop 
Burnet's words, ^ are in themselves desirable, though there were not 
a Dissenter in the nation ;" alterations not to change its character, but 
to perfect it 

** But it is latitudinarian not to lay a greater stress on the necessity 
of believing the truth, and to allow by public authority, and sanction by 
our own cooperation, the teaching of error." I will not yield to any 
man in the strength of my conviction of truth and error ; nor in the 


wish that the propagation of error could be prevented. But how is it 
possible to effect this ? How many of the sermons and other writings 
of our best divines contain more or less of error, of foolish arguraentSt 
of false premises, of countervailing truths unknown or neglected, so 
that even the truth on the other side, being stated alone, becomes vir- 
tually no better than falsehood ! How many passages of Scripture 
are misinterpreted in every translation and in every commentary! But 
are we to refuse to cooperate with our neighbour because of these 
errors : or shall our own love of truth be impeached because of our 
union with him ? Every one knows, that it is a question of degree and 
detail ; but with a discipline watching over a man's practice, and with 
a sincere acknowledgement of the authority of the New Testament, 
although much and serious error may yet be maintained and propagat- 
ed, yet it is better even to suffer this, than by insisting on too great an 
agreement, necessarily to reduce our numbers, and bring upon our 
country the fearful risk of losing the establishment of Christianity al- 

Men are alarmed by the examples of Germany and Geneva. But 
what do they prove ? The latter proves admirably the mischiefs of an 
over- strict creed ; and ultra- Calvinism was likely to lead to ultra-So- 
cinianism, with the change of times in other respects. But at this mo- 
ment the mischief in Geneva consists in the enforcement of the exclu- 
sive principle, not in its abandonment : the Church is now exclusively 
Arian or Socinian, as it was once exclusively Calvinistic ; and Trini- 
tarian ministers are not allowed to teach to their congregations the 
great and peculiar doctrines of Christianity. And with regard to the 
Germans ; had the Protestant Churches there retained ever so exclu- 
sive a body of articles, yet the strong tendency of the national charac- 
ter would probably havd led to the same result : with no other differ- 
ence than the addition of the evil of hypocrisy to that of ultra-rational- 
ism. For let any man observe the German literature in other branches 
besides theology ; and he will see the same spirit of restless inquiry 
everywhere pervading it. Nor is it confined in theology to the German 
Protestants ; the Catholics are not exempt from it ; only there, from 
the nature of their Church, it is displayed less sincerely, and therefore, 
I think much more painfully. As an instance of this covert rational- 
ism, I should name a book which has been translated into English, and 
has had some circulation in this country, " Hug's Introduction to the 
Study of the New Testament." 

For us, on the other hand, critical and metaphysical questions have 
but small atti actions; we have little to fear from the evil of indulging 


in them to excess. Unbelief, with us, is mostly the result of moral 
and political causes ; to check which, nothing would be so efficient as 
a well-organized and comprehensive National Church, acting unitedlj 
and popularly, and with adequate means, upon the whole mass of our 
population. The widest conceivable difierence of opinion between the 
ministers of such a Church would be a trifling evil compared with the 
good of their systematic union of action. 

Lastly, if it be said that the changes proposed are too great, — that 
the scheme is visionary and impracticable ; I answer, that the changes 
proposed are great, because the danger threatening us is enormous ; 
and that although the scheme very probably will be impracticable, be- 
cause men will persist in believing it to be so without trial, yet that it 
remains to be shown that it is impracticable in itself. But if the Re- 
form of the Church be impracticable, its destruction unhappily is not 
so, and tJiat its enemies know full well. It may be that a patchwork 
reform will be deemed safer, as assuredly it is easier ; it may be, too, 
that after such a reform has been effected, and has left the great evils 
of the Church just where it found them, so that its final destruction shall 
be no less sure, the blame of its destruction will be laid by some on 
the principle of reform, and we shall be told that had no pretended im- 
provements been attempted in it, it would have stood for ever. So it 
is, that no man is ever allowed to have died from the violence of his 
disease ; but from the presumption of his physician, whose remedies, 
tried at the eleventh hour, he was too weak to bear. If I have seemed 
to speak confidently, it is not that I forget the usual course of human 
afiairs ; abuses and inefficient institutions obstinately retained, and 
then at last, blindly and furiously destroyed. Yet, when interests of 
such surpassing value are at stake, it may be allowable to hope even 
against hope ; to suppress no plan which we conscientiously believe 
essential to our country's welfare, even though no other result should 
follow than that we should be ridiculed as theoretical, or condemned 
as presumptuous. 


Since the first publication of this pamphlet I have heard and read a 
great many objections against its princii^es and details. But a very 
recent work on Church Reform, by the Rev. C. Dickinson, Domestic 
Chaplain to the Archbishop of Dublin, has particularly determined me 
to add some explanation and defence of what 1 have written ; for Mi. 
Dickinson's objections are levelled against that part of my pamphlet 
which rests on principles most commonly misunderstood ; and the tone 


of his remarks is at the same time so friendly, that it is impossible for 
any acrimonious feelings to mingle with my re-statement of my argu- 

The substance of what I endeavoured to show was this, — ^that a 
Church Establishment is one of the greatest national blessings ; that 
its benefits have been lessened, and are now in danger of being for* 
felted altogether, by its being based on too narrow a foundation, and 
being not so much the Church of England, as of a certain part only of 
the people of England ; and that in order at once to secure it from de- 
struction, and to increase its efficiency as an instrument of national 
good, it should be made more comprehensive in its doctrines, its con- 
stitution, and its ritual. 

The first proposition, namely, that a Church Establishment is a great 
national blessing, is disputed sufficiently in many quarters, but not in 
those from which most of the objections to my pamphlet have proceed- 
ed. Nor have I met with any attempt to disprove the most important 
part of my second proposition, — ^that is, the actual jeopardy in which 
the Establishment as at present constituted is placed, from the strength 
of the several parties who are working together to effect its overthrow. 
And yet this is the main groimd on which I urge the necessity of so 
extensive a reform : for although it might be an improvement upon our 
present system under any circumstances, yet if the Church, as it now 
is, were in no danger, I am quite ready to allow that it would be un- 
wise to risk, supposing the proposed change to be a risk, the great 
benefits which the country even now derives from it, merely in the 
hope of making them greater. 

But against my third proposition, that the Establishment should be 
made more comprehensive, a surprising outcry has been raised. Some 
as I expected, have ridiculed it as impracticable, while others have pro- 
tested against it as latitudinarian* and contrary to the truth of Christ's 
Gospel ; and the whole argument connected with it has been assaUed 
on various grounds, and with various degrees of understanding, of good 
feeling, and of knowledge. 

"The proposed comprehension is impracticable." It may possibly 
be so, and it is not only possible, but very likely, that I may have spo- 

* ** A considerable cause of our diyisionB hath been the broaching scandalouB 
names, and employing them to blaft the reputation of worthy men ; bespattering and 
aspersing them with insinuations, &c. ;^-engines devised by spiteful, and apphed by 
simple people ;— latitudinarians, rationalists, and I know not what other names, in- 
tended for reproach, although importing better signification than those dull detrac- 
toAi can, it seems, diecem.**— From an unpublished and mt^nitked Treatise, •• re. 
UUing to the DiaeetUen," by Juute Bmmm. 

poaTBcsm. 119 

ken too sangabel j of its immediate practicability in its full extent. I 
hare supposed it impossible to include at present the Roman Catholics, 
the Quakers, and the Unitarians : it maj be, that other bodies of Dis- 
senters whom we might be willing to admit, would themselves object 
Uf the union, and would prefer their present independence, especiallj if 
they can succeed in obtaining relief from what they consider the bur* 
dens of their actual condition. Undoubtedly if they do obtain this re* 
lie^ they vnll have so much less inducement to become members of 
the Establishment ; yet if the Establishment make no cfibrts to unite 
them to itself, how can this relief be refused them ? But if the Es- 
tablishment were to set its doors widely open, do wo doubt that within 
fifty years the great mass of the dissenting population would gladly en- 
ter them ? Supposing that habit made the majority of the existing gene- 
ration of dissenting ministers prefer their own chapels and their own 
separate society ; yet how many of the rising generations, who will 
now be Dissenters, would eagerly enlist as ministers of the Establish- 
ment, if an opening were made for their services by our employing 
ministers of different stations in society, and exacting from them a less 
rigid conformity ? 

I would have no renewal of the Savoy or Hampton Court Confer- 
ences ; some of the leading Dissenters might be privately consulted, 
but the alterations to be made in the Liturgy and Articles should be 
marked out by a Commission*^, appointed by the king in the first in* 
stance, and then submitted to Parliament ; and the alterations in the 
administration of the Church should be decided by an act of the legis- 
lature, drawn up under the direction of the Government. That the im- 
provement thus effected would at once reconcile many of the Dissen- 
ters, and convert many merely nominal Churchmen into hearty friends 

* And above all, I must repeat what I have fntid before, that this Commi8ii<m 
should not consist solely, nor even principally, of Clergymeiu The failure of the 
Commission in 1689 is a warning on this point, as well as against the notion of sub- 
mitting any plan of Church Reform to the judgment of a Conyocation. Preyiously 
to this unsuccessful attempt, it had been moved in the House of Lords, ** that a num- 
ber of persons, both of the clergy and laity, should be empowered to prepare such a 
reformation of things relating to the Church as might be offered to King and Par- 
liament, in order to the healing our divisions,** (I am quotmg Burnet's words,) ** and 
the correcting what might be amiss or defective in our constitution.** Burnet, giv- 
ing the clergy credit for a sincere desire to promote such a design, wished to leave 
the matter wholly in their hands, and therefore warmly opposed the motion, which 
was accordingly rejected. ** But I was convinced soon alter,'* he says, ** that I had 
taken wrong measures, and that the method proposed was the only one like to prove 
ef£dciuai:*— History of His Own Times, Vol. III. p. 11. 8vo. edit. London, 1818- 
Unless we profit, as Burnet did, by his experience, we are likely to o^eet with a repe. 
tttion of the same disappointment now. 


of the Establishment, appears to me little less than certain. That 
within fifty years they would nearly extinguish all dissent throughout 
the kingdom, or reduce it so greatly as to destroy its importance as a 
national evil, I hold to be in the highest degree probable. 

" The proposed comprehension is unchristian." Surely not, as fkr 
as the mass of the Protestant Dissenters are concerned, or how could 
three attempts have been made, in the course of the seventeenth cen. 
tury, to effect it ? It matters not whether the ruling party was sincere 
in its professions ; the mere fact of the Hampton Court and Savoy Con- 
ferences, to say nothing of the abortive Commission of 1689, is an ad- 
mission on the part of the Church that a comprehension with those 
who are called the orthodox Dissenters, cannot be in itself unlawful. 
I would go farther, and include all who will agree in rd ivayxttidTaia^ — 
in those points, a denial of which absolutely excludes a man from the 
Church of Christ. And I hold with Bacon, that the bonds of Chris- 
tian communion are laid down to be, " One faith*, one baptism," not 
*' one ceremonial, one opinion." And further, I think that what Ba- 
con found wanting in his time is wanting still ; namely, " a declara- 
tion of the nature and magnitude of those points which utterly divide 
men from the Church, and expel them from the communion of the faith- 
ful." " And if any man think that this has been done long since," 
either in the decrees of the four first councils, or in any creeds or arti- 
cles of any existing Church, ** let him observe again and again," as 
Bacon most justly adds, '' how much truth and how much moderation 
have been shewn in the doing of it." For instance, a false criterion 
of '* fundamental errors" has been set up, in measuring the importance 
of the error to us by the excellence of the object to which it relates. 
This has caused men to lay so much stress on all opinions that relate 
to God. And, indeed, opinions of his moral attributes are of the last 
importance, because such as we suppose him to be morally, such we 
strive to become ourselves ; but opinions as to his nature metaphysi- 
cally may be wholly unimportant, because they are often of such a kind 

• ** Vincula enim communionis ChristianiB ponuntar, Una fidea, unum haptitma^ 
&«., non unuB ritus, una opinio.** — ** His itaqne perpensis, mhgai videatur res et mo- 
menti et ustiB esse, et definiatur, qualia sint ilia et quante latitudinis, quo) ab eccle- 
sisB corpore homines penitus divellant, et a communione fideliom eliminent. Quod 
■i quis putet» hoc jam pridem factum esse, vidcat ille etiam atqae etiam, quam sin. 
cer6 et moderate. Illud interim verisimile est, earn qui pacis mentionem fecerit, re- 
portaturum rcsponsum illud Jehu ad nuntium, * Numquid pax ett, Jehu ? Quid tihi 
etpaei ? Trann et sequere me,* Cum nou pax wd partes plerisque cordi sint."— 
Bacon^ De AugmetUit ScietUiarum^ IX. I. \ 3. 

pomcBirr. 121 

E8 to be whoUj inoperative upon our spiritual state : they neither ad- 
vance us in goodness, nor obstruct our progress in it. 

On the other hand, that ia to us tL fundamental error which directly 
interferes with our own edification. That is to say, we cannot wor- 
ship with a man who insists upon our omitting some religious exercise 
which we feel to be important to our own improvement. I laid the 
stress therefore on the worship of Christ, not on the admission of his 
proper divinity. If a man will not let me pray to and praise my Sa- 
viour, he destroys the exercise of my &ith ahogether ;— but I am no 
way ii\jured by his praying to him as a glorified man, whiles I pray to 
him as God. The conclusion to be drawn from the known &llibUity 
of human judgments, is, not that we should be sceptical ourselves or 
compromise our own practice, but that we should bear with our neigh- 
bour's thinking as he judges right, so long as he will bear with our 
acting as we judge right. Conformity to our Liturgy therefore is a 
much better test to require than subscription to our Articles. In other 
words, if the public prayers of a Church be enough to satisfy a Chris- 
tian's devotion, and to be an effectual means of grace to him, and if 
the sacraments bo duly administered, we have every thing that is es- 
sential to our own improvement ; and what has been imagined to af- 
ford a greater security to our faith, has, in &ct, rather tended to weaken 
and perplex it. 

Of course I am aware that Articles are regarded as a security 
against erroneous preaching. Now, certainly it would belong to the 
common discipline of the Church that a minister should not preach 
against the Liturgy, — he should not contradict the prayers in which he 
had just before joined. And gross ignorance, and violence, or any in- 
decency of language or manner, might and ought to be noticed by the 
Church authorities, whose superintendence, if the Church were re- 
formed, would be much more complete and efficient, we might hope, 
than it is at present. But as to differences of opinion, they exist ac- 
tually, in spite of the Articles, and all the inconveniences which would 
arise on that score may be thoroughly appreciated already. We have 
at this moment the extremes of Calvinism and Arminianism united 
within the pale of the Establishment ; — it is difficult to conceive how 
any greater difierences of opinion could exist, so long as the Liturgy 
was a Christian Liturgy, and no man was allowed to preach against it 

With respect to Church government, the principal points which I 
urged were, first, the admission of the laity to a larger share in it ; — 
secondly, that its constitution should be rendered more popular ; and, 
thirdly, that the power of the bishops should be rendered more efiicient 
by the institution of such checks as might allow of its exercise without 



I am not aware that on these points Mr. Dickinson's views would 
differ from mine. He speaks of " the bishop of the diocese, aided by his 
proper councU^^^ as if he had no idea that such a limitation of a bishop's 
power were either unlawful or inexpedient. He is probably not 
ignorant that in the primitive Church* " the bishop did nothing of im- 
portance without the advice of his presbyters and deacons," and that 
" frequently he took the opinion of the whole people." He remem- 
bers, that one of the circumstances in the administration of bishops in 
England, with which Bacon never could be satisfied, was, " the sole 
exercise of their authority ;" that " the bishop giveth orders alone, ex- 
communicateth alone, judgeth alone ;" — "a thing," he adds, "almost 
without example in good government, "f Nor is Mr. Dickinson, so far 
as appears, one of those extraordinary persons who gravely maintain 
that primitive Episcopacy, and Episcopacy as it now exists in England, 
are essentially the same. I was well aware that many persons did 
maintain this, and I spoke purposely in my pamphlet of the great dif- 
ference between the two institutions, in order to draw their attention 
to the grounds on which their belief rested. But as it seems that they 
are not apt to think out the question for themselves, they are requested 
to consider the following points. 

An ofRce may be said to be essentially the same so long as it is cal- 
culated to fulfil equally well the object for which it was originally in- 
stituted. Thus, if the object be to perpetuate the dignity and authority 
of one particular family or race, the office may be called the same, so 
long as it is hereditary in this family or race, even though its powers 
in the course of years may undergo considerable alteration. Thus in 
an hereditary priesthood, as long as the blood was preserved pure, the 
office would retain its most essential character of identity, although at 
one period the priest's power were independent of the civil magistrate, 
and at another completely subservient to him. 

Again, if the object were to secure the continued efficiency of some 
highly valuable gifl, which the possessor for the time being could com- 

* " En cbaque ^glise l*Ev6que ne faisoit rien dUmportant, sans le conseil des prdtres, 
des diacrcs, ct des principaux de son clerg^. Souvent m^rne il consultoit tout le peu. 
pie quand il avoit int^rSt k Paffairc, comme auz ordinations.**— F/etiry, DUcours sur 
VHistoire des Six Premiers Siecles de VEglise, prefixed to the eighth volume of his 
Ecclesiastical History, This and the other discourses of the same writer, scattered 
through the volumes of his history, can hardly be recommended too strongly. I know 
of nothing that at aU approaches to them in excellence on the subjects to which they 
relate. Sir J. Mackintosh has done justice to their merit, in a note in the first volume 
of his History ofEnglandf p 146. 

t "Of the PacificaUon of the Church.'*— Bocon't Works^ Vol. IV. p. 436. Foli(^ 
edit 1730. 


municate to any one whom he might fix upon, then the office would be 
substantially the same so long as the possession of this gift remained 
annexed to it, although in other matters its powers might be increased 
or diminished. 

But if the object be simply to provide for the general ends of good 
goYemment, then the office loses its essential identity so soon as it is 
altered in those points which affect its operation upon the commonwealth. 
For, instance, the powers of the office may remain the same, but its 
operation for good or for evil may be wholly different according to the 
difierent hands in whom the appointment is vested. No man would call 
the House of Conmions essentially the same, if its members were to be 
nominated by the crown instead of elected by the people. And, on the 
other hand, the mode of appointment may remain unchanged, but the 
character of the office may be essentially changed, by extending its 
powers or abridging them. The tribunes were still chosen by the 
tribes as formerly, but the people felt that it was no longer the same 
office when Sylla deprived it of the right of originating any measure, 
and made it a disqualification for attaining to all the higher honours in 
the commonwealth. 

Now Episcopacy was clearly not instituted for the sake of maintain- 
ing the ascendancy of any one family or rape ; and therefore it has ne- 
ver been hereditary. It is the second case which has given rise to the 
prevailing confusion on the subject. For the Apostles were possessed 
of certain most valuable gifts, and could communicate them to others ; 
and had these gifls been capable of perpetual transmission, the office 
with which they were transmitted would have remained essentially the 
same, however much its ordinary powers might have been changed 
from what they were originally. Now if any gift be thus transmitted 
in the case of Episcopacy, what is it, and where is the proof of its ex- 
istence ? When men say that the power of ordaining ministers is thus 
transmitted, there is a confusion in the use of the word power. Bishops 
confer a legal qualification for the ministry, not a real one, whether 
natural or supernatural. They can give neither piety, nor wisdom, nor 
learning, nor eloquence ; — nothing, in short, but what the laws or con- 
stitutions of the Church empower them to give, — ^that is to say, a com- 
mission to preach and to administer the sacraments in the Church of 
God, according to the measure of the gifls which the person ordained 
has received, or may receive hereafter, not from them, or through their 
medium, but from God, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit on his own 
prayers and exertions. 

Episcopacy then was instituted for the general ends of good gov- 
ernment ; and like ordinary civil offices, its identity depends on its con- 


tinuing to exercise an equal influence on the welfare of the body con« 
nected with it. If then its mode of appointment be wholly changed, 
and its relation to the Church greatly circumscribed ; still more, if the 
whole society to which it belongs has assumed a different aspect, it is 
hard to conceive how it can be said to continue essentially the same. 
Now the primitive bishops were appointed by the members of their 
own order, with the approbation of the people of the diocese : — bishops 
in England are appointed solely by the crown. The primitive bishops 
could legislate for the Church, laity as well as clergy : — the bishops in 
England can legislate for no one without the consent of the crown, — 
and if they are allowed to meet in synod, they can legislate only for the 
clergy, — over the laity their canons have no authority whatever.* 
The primitive bishops fixed the doctrine of their churches, and ordered 
their ceremonies : — no single bishop, nor all the bishops in England 
united, can order a single prayer to be added to, or taken from the 
Church service, nor can they do so much as alter a single expression 
in its language. No bishop can ordain any man unless he will take 
certain oaths imposed by act of Parliament, and subscribe to the arti- 
cles of religion as required by act of parliament. No bishop can refuse 
to institute any man regularly ordained to any cure of souls in his dio- 
cese, to which he may be appointed by the patrons ; nor can he, ex- 
cept as patron, and not as bishop, confer the cure of souls on any one. 
Finally, in the primitive times the bishops were judges in civil matters 
amongst their people, and thus possessed a temporal influence and au- 
thority as well as a spiritual : — whereas in England they are accounted 
solely the governors of the clergy, and the bulk of the people are hardly 
aware of their possessing any authority at all. 

It will not be supposed that I am dwelling on these differences for 
the purpose of depreciating our present Episcopacy. Whatever be 
the faults of our system, it is no reproach to it that it differs from that 
of the primitive Church. With every thing changed around us, it 
would be most extraordinary if the same forms of government could 
continue to suit our altered condition : and to imagine that any one 
form was intended by the Apostles to be binding upon all Christians, 
in all times and in all countries, seems to me to betray equal ignorance 
of the spirit of Christianity, and of the nature and ends of Government. 

But the change which has taken place in the relations of the Church 
with the civil power since the first beginning of Christianity, has been 
a fruitful subject of dispute. The pretensions of the popes, and of the 
Roman Catholic clergy in general, — the fanaticism of the Puritans, — 
jind in later times, some practical inconveniences in our actual system 

•Blackitoiie^ CommentaiiM, YoL L p. 83. Edit Coleridge, 1825. 

in England, have all helped to embarrass the question. I have chaiged 
others with using the word ^ Church " in a vague or improper sense ; 
and Mr. Dickinson brings the same charge against me. He com- 
plains that I have identified the Church in this country with the nation* 
I plead guilty to the charge, for I do believe them to be properly iden- 

The Church, using the word now as synonymous with ^ Christian 
society," was instituted for the promotion of man's highel^t possible per- 
fection and happiness. It did not neglect even his physical wants and 
sufierings, — but its main object was to improve him morally and spirit- 
ually;7-4o bring him to such a state of goodness and wisdom that his 
highest happiness would be no longer an unattainable dream. 

Now this is precisely the object of civil society also : that is, of the 
State. Our physical wants may have led * to its actual origin, but its 
proper object is of a higher nature ; — it is the intellectual and moral 
improvement of mankind, in order to their reaching their greatest per- 
fection, and enjoying their highest happiness. This is the object of 
civil society, or *'the State" in the abstract ; and the object of any par- 
ticular civil society or state is still the same, but limited to certain local 
boundaries which mark the particular subdivisions of the society of 

Civil society aims at the highest happiness of man according to the 
measure of its knowledge. Religious society aims at it truly and really, 
because it has obtained a complete knowledge of it. Impart then to 
civil society the knowledge of religious society, and the objects of both 
will be not only in intention but in fact the same. In other words, re- 
ligious society is only civil society fully enlightened : the State in its 
highest perfection becomes the Church. 

When then the individuals of any nation have been converted to 
Christianity, they see that they bad in many instances entertained 
false and imperfect notions of their highest perfection and happiness* 
Their mistakes are now corrected ; what they thought was the sum- 
mit of the mountain, they now find to be a point of inferior height : 
but their object is still the same as it was before, — to reach the top of 
the mountain. Institutions may be modified, laws amended, wars may 
become less frequent and less bloody, the practice of the nation may be 
substantially changed, but still it is pursuing the same object as before ; 
only with the advantage of discerning it more clearly, and following it 
more steadily. 

But the case has been perplexed, by its being supposed that civil and 


religious society have necessarily two distinct governments ; that the 
magistrate is at the head of the one, and the priest of the other ; and 
that these two offices have a different tenure ; the one deriving its au- 
thority from human law, from custom, from mutual agreement, or from 
superior force, while the other was derived from the express command 
of God, and handed down in an unbroken succession from those whom 
God first invested with it. 

Of two powers with such pretensions neither could be expected to 
yield to the other. And the alleged distinctness of their titles hindered 
them from coalescing ; the State not choosing to take its rulers from 
those who boasted to possess already a higher title to authority than 
the State could give them, while the Church regarded it as a profana- 
tion to place rulers made by man on a level with those appointed by 
God. Offices so distinct naturally kept up the belief that the societies 
to which they respectively belonged were essentially distinct also. 

But the error consisted in ascribing to Christianity an office which 
it does not recognize on earth, — ^that of the priesthood. Grant that 
there is a priesthood, that is, an order of men deriving their authority 
from God only, through the medium of one another, and you introduce 
at once into the relations of civil and religious society an element of 
perpetual disunion. It will forever be a question whether the State is 
to rule the Church, or the Church the State, or if they are supposed to 
meet as allies with one another, yet one or the other party will be for- 
ever complaining that the terms of the alliance are not strictly kept to. 

The New Testament, amongst a thousand other proofs of that divine 
wisdom in which Christianity originated, offers this most remarkable 
one, — that alone, of all the religions of civilized man, it disclaims any 
earthly priesthood. The Christian society had its ministers of various 
ranks and various offices ; but nothing was definitely and universally 
commanded with regard to their number, jurisdiction, or mode of appoint- 
ment. As far as related to its external constitution, it was left from age 
to age in full possession of the right of regulating its own government. 

Now, whilst the civil society was distinct from the religious one, it is 
manifest that the civil offices belonging to the latter must have held a 
very subordinate place, because those of the highest dignity and im- 
portance were exclusively in the hands of the former. The highest 
earthly ministers of God's moral government, that is to say, those per- 
sons who were invested with the supreme executive and legislative 
power, could not be ministers of His spiritual government also, be- 
cause they were not yet acquainted with it. Yet as their jurisdiction* 
and the benefits of their functions, extended to the members of the re- 
ligious society, the exercise of similar fimctions by these last was at 

potnoBiPT. 127 

once unnecessary and impossible. The great work of civil society was 
already done fbr them by others ; not perfectly indeed, because it pro- 
ceeded from men who had not the benefit of their wisdom, but yet so as 
to preclude them from attempting to do it for themselves* 

But no sooner had civil society become enlightened, and learned 
aright what was the destiny of man, what his greatest perfection, and 
what his highest happiness, than it became at once a religious society, 
but armed with powers, and grown to a fullness of stature, which reli- 
gious societies till now had never known. The civil offices which it 
now had to discharge were no longer subordinate and municipal, but 
sovereign and national ; nor did they lose their inherent supremacy, 
because they were administered on higher principles. The king had 
been the head of the State, he was equally the head of the perfected 
State, that is, of the Church ; with him rested the duty of disposing and 
superintending all the details of the society's government, so as to 
make them most effective towards the attainment of its great object, the 
highest perfection and happiness of the community. And the " King," 
in this statement, is merely another name for the supreme power in 
society ; so that what is true of the individual sovereign in a pure mo- 
narchy, is true equally of the bodies of men, be they more or less nu- 
merous, by whom the sovereignty is exercised in an aristocracy or a 

When this sovereign power then directs and controls its inferior mi- 
nisters, the clergy, and legislates for the great objects of the society, by 
providing for the highest instruction of its members, and taking care 
that it be at once pure and effective ; it is not that the State is govern- 
ing the Church, but that the Church, through the medium of its supreme 
government, is ruling itself. The confusion has arisen from the notion 
that the highest ministers of the Church must always be bishops or 
presbyters, because they were so in the days of its existence as a sub- 
ordinate and municipal society. Even had the Christian ministers of 
religion been a priesthood, yet the example of the Israelites might 
teach us that Moses is greater than Aaron, — that he who rules God's 
people, to direct them in the ways of judgment, mercy, and truth, is 
greater than he who ministers at the altar. Much more are Christian 
rulers greater than the Christian clergy, inasmuch as the functions of 
the latter, not being definitely fixed by any divine law, are far more 
subject to the control of the supreme government of the Church than 
were the offices of the Jewish priesthood. 

What I have here stated are the true principles of the Church o f 
England, upon which she asserted, in opposition to the Roman Catho- 
lics and to the Presbyterians, — ^that the King is the supreme head of the 


Church on earth.- ** It was certainly designed at one time," says Mr. 
Dickinson, *' that the Church and the nation should be co-extensive.'' 
I should rather say that the founders of the Protestant Church of Eng- 
land considered them as identical : — the Christian nation of England 
was the Church of England ; the head of that nation was for that very 
reason the head of the Church ; — ^the public officers of the nation, whe- 
ther civil or ecclesiastical, were officers therefore of the Church ; — and 
every Englishman was supposed to be properly a member of it, — ^bap- 
tized into it almost as soon as he was born, — taught its lessons in its 
early childhood, — required to partake of its most solemn pledge of com- 
munion,* — married under its sanction and blessing, — and laid in the 
grave within its peculiar precincts, amidst its prayers and most affec- 
tionate consolations. And is it indifference or latitudinarianism to 
wish most devoutly that this noble, this divine theory, may be fully and 
for ever realized ?f 

*•' And note that every parishioner shall communicate at the least three times in 
the year.'* — Kubrick at the end of the Communion Service,— -See also the Prayer for 
the Church militant, and the second Collect for Good Friday, as beautiful instances 
of the extensive sense in ^hich our reformers used the word " Church." In the for- 
mer, the King's Council, ihe Judges, &.C., are prayed for as officers in the Church, 
before even the Bishops and Curates. — See also Romans xii. C — 8. 

t It is objected to this doctrine, that it implies the exclusion of those who are not 
members of the Church from the civil rights of citizens. I think it does imply such 
an exclusion in the case>of those who are not members of the Church of Christ : nor 
should I consider a Christian nation justified in forming a legislative union with a na- 
tion of Jews, or Mahometans, or Heathens. If the citizens of the same nation are in 
nearly equal proportion Christians and Heathens, the State in that country is not yet 
sufficiently enlightened to become a Church ; and it is here that our Lord's words 
apply, that *' his kingdom is not of this world :** — Christians have no right, as such, 
to press the establishment of their religion to the prejudice of the civil rights of others. 
Yet if the two religions happened to ba for the most part locally divided, it would 
be a reason why such a nation should separate itself into two, and the Christian and 
Heathen portions of it form a state distinct from the other. But when the decided 
majority of a country become Christians, so that the State may justly become a 
Church, then the Heathen part of the population ought to be excluded from the legis. 
lature, and encouraged, if it bo possible, to emigrate to other countries, if they com- 
plain of not participating in the full rights of citizenship. At present, in England, I 
should earnestly deprecate the admission of the Jews to a share in the national legisla- 
ture. It is a principle little warranted by authority or by reason, that the sole quali- 
fication for enjoying the rights of citizenship should consist in being locally an inhab. 
iant of any country. But all professing Christians, of whatsoever sect, as bemg 
members of the Church of Christ, must be supposed to have much more in common 
with each other, as far as the great ends of society are concerned, than they have 
points of difference. Their peculiar tenets, therefore, need form no ground for their 

It 18 owing to the exlstenca of religious dissent that not onlj is it not 
realized in practice, but its rery truth and excellence foe disputed. 
And that dissent has arisen out of faults and errors on both sides, on 
the part of the Dissenters no less than on that of the Church, is a fiust 
which no impartial man can doubt. It maj be too late now to remedj 
the mischief entirely ; but surely, if it be remedied even in part, it will 
be no light benefit, — and it is absurd to suppose that it can be reme- 
died at all without an alteration, or rather an enlargement of our pre- 
sent ecclesiastical constitution and ritual. Therefore I earnestly desire 
such an enlargement, and I lock to the supreme government of the 
Church, — the government of this still Christian nation, — as the only 
power by which it can or ought to be efiected. Let it be supposed chi- 
merical to expect any extensive comprehension of the Dissenters ; even 
then the relaxing uniformity of the Liturgy, the reduction of the size of 
the dioceses, and the increase of their number, the appointment of ad- 
ditional orders of ministers, which might include members of the poorer 
classes, and, above aU, the conferring on the lay members of the 
Church a greater share in its ordinary administration, would be produc- 
tive of the greatest benefit, inasmuch as it would interest many in the 
wel^re of the Church, who now, without being Dissenters, feel that 
they have little to do with it, and habitually look upon it as the con- 
cern of the clergy, and not their own. Such a reform, too, might make 
the Church efiective, where its exertions are most needed, and where 
they are at present necessarily most inefficient ; I mean, amongst the 
masses of our manufacturing population. Indeed, when we consider 
the utter inadequacy of the Establishment, as it now stands, to meet 
the wants of the great manufacturing towns and districts, it may be 
said that in those portions of the kingdom our business is not so much 
to reform the Church, as to create one. 

Undoubtedly if that large part of our population, who are at present ^ 
neither Churchmen nor Dissenters, could be reaUy attached to the Es- 
tablished Church, the danger arising firom the existence of avowed dis- 
sent would be greatly lessened. We might then hope to save the Es- 
tablishment ; which must always be a great blessing, however much 
its usefulness and excellence may be impaired by exclusiveness. But 
as things now are, in any attempts to attach the people to the Church, 
we find that the Dissenters actually oppose us ; and this, it is to be 
feared, will always be the case, unless a more comprehensive system / 
be adopted. If this fear be ill-founded ; if the Church, without any 
alteration of its Articles, or Liturgy, or government, can succeed in 
working its way amidst the manufacturing population ; can improve 
them physicaUy and morally, and make them sensible of the benefits 


whicli thej receive from it ; there is not a man alive to whom this 
proof of its inherent vitality will be more grateful than to me. Were 
it even more exclusive than it is, its preservation would still be ear- 
nestly to be desired, as one of the greatest national blessings. Most 
heartily do I wish to see it reformed, at once for the sake of its safety 
and of its greater perfection ; but, reformed or not, may God, in His 
mercy, save us from the calamity of seeing it destroyed. 




[This article ii taken from the Edinbnrfi^h Review for April, 1836.] 

Dr. Hampden, the present Regius Professor of Divinity in the Uni- 
versity of Oxford, afler having obtained as & young man the highest 
academical distinctions, was appointed, in the year 1832, to preach 
what are called the "Bampton Lectures." These consist of a course 
of eight sermons, preached before the University every year on some 
point of Christian theology ; and when the preacher is a man of any 
ability or reputation, the sermons, from their elaborate character, and 
from being delivered during a period of several weeks, always attract 
considerable attention. In the following year. Dr. Hampden was ap- 
pointed by Lord Grenville, Principal of St. Mary's HaU ; and, in 1834, 
he was elected Professor of Moral Philosophy, the electors being the 
Vice-chancellor and Proctors for the time, the Dean of Christ Church, 
and the Presidents of Magdalen and St. John's Colleges ; and one of 
the qualifications required in the Professor by the statutes being, that 
he should be sinceritate jidei commendatus. The Dean of Christ 
Church, Dr. Gaisford, and the Presidents of Magdalen and St. John's, 
Drs. Routh and Dynter, held their present situations in the year 1834, 
and elected Dr. Hampden to the professorship. The " Purity of his 
Faith " received also, on the same occasion, the sanction of Dr. Row- 
ley's approbation, the Master of University College, who was, in 1834, 
as he still is, the Vice-chanceUor of the University. 

A career so marked at every period by academical honours, pointed 
out Dr. Hampden as one of the most distinguished members of his 
University ; and when the King's Government selected him to fill the 
important office of Regius Professor of Divinity, upon no other recom- 
mendation than that of his high public and academical character, it 
might have been supposed that their choice would have been received 
by the University, not with satisfaction merely, but with gratitude. The 
Government had, in a manner, believed the University's testimonial ; 


and had attached so much weight to it as to be thereby influenced in 
the disposal of a piece of preferment not more lucrative than honorable. 

But instead of peace there came a whirlwind. A numerous party 
in the University first took upon themselves, with characteristic mod- 
esty, to petition his Majesty to rescind his own appointment ; and when 
this application was treated with due contempt, the baffled petitioners, 
or rather conspirators, commenced one of the most extraordinary courses 
of agitation ever yet witnessed even in the annals of party malignity. 

As a first step, they met in the common room of Corpus Christ! 
College, and named a committee to conduct their business. The com- 
mittee drew up a declaration, which was submitted to the whole body 
of the conspirators, and then published, with a long list of names sub. 
scribed to it. The declaration contained a protest against Dr. Hamp- 
den's appointment : it charged him with having " contradicted the doc- 
trinal truths which he was pledged to maintain ;" and with having 
^' asserted principles which necessarily tend to subvert, not only the 
authority of the Church, but the whole fabric and reality of Christian 
truth." By way of scholium on this declaration, the committee an- 
nexed to it an extract from their own report, in which they explained 
the mischievous principles ascribed to Dr. Hampden as no other than 
what they call the " Philosophy of Rationalism." " It is the theory of 
rationalism," they say, " [as set forth systematically in the Bampton 
Lectures of 1832, and still more recently asserted in lectures addressed 
to students,] which is to be considered the root of aU the errors of Dr. 
Hampden's system." 

We feel, that in this last quotation, we are drawing somewhat 
largely upon the confidence of our readers. We can indeed, to speak 
plainly, forgive them if they mistrust us. It is monstrous, it is almost 
incredible, that a charge of " mischievous principle " should be founded 
upon Dr. Hampden's Bampton Lectures of 1832 ; and not only this, but 
that these mischievous principles should be described as " set forth 
SYSTEMATICALLY I" Mischiovous principles, set forth systematical- 
ly, in a course of eight sermons preached successively in the University 
pulpit, before the Vice-chancellor and all the Dignitaries and Tutors of 
the University, — and no proceedings instituted, no censure passed, no 
accusation made, — but, on the contrary, the preacher subsequently re- 
ceiving from the University the highest degree in Divinity — that degree 
which is virtually a professorship of theology — the University's com- 
mission to give lectures to its students in every branch of that faculty — 
receiving again the office of Head of a Hall — and lastly, the Professor- 
flhip of Moral Philosophy ? Such was the University of Oxford's cen- 
sure upon eight sermons full of '* systematic mischief," preached in 


her own cborcli, — and in the presence of her highest authorities ? 
And this statement comes not from an enemy, not from a rival ; it 
is no dissenting slander ; no Edinburgh Review calumnj ; but it is 
given out to the world from the very heart of Oxford herself; and sub- 
scribed with the names of five of her most devoted sons, who have 
known her long and well, who cannot misrepresent her in ignorance, 
who would not slander her in malice ! 

But the marvel is greater 'still. This charge against Dr. Hampden's 
Bampton Lectures, made by five individuals, has been adopted and 
sanctioned by seventy-six others — all of them masters of arts at the 
least — all describing themselves as persons '* engaged or interested in 
the religious instruction of the University." All the ^yo accusers, and 
an immense majority of the seventy-six sanctioners of the accusation, 
were exactly as much engaged and interested in the religious instruc- 
tion of the University, in 1832, as they are now, in 1836. A refe- 
rence to the Oxford calender of 1832 will prove this at once to those 
to whom it is not notorious. Was there ever an accusation involving 
its unhappy promoters in such a dilemma of infamy ? Compromisers 
of mischievous principles in 1832, 1833, 1834, and 1835,— or slander- 
ers of a good and most Christian man in 1836— disqualified for the 
office of religious instructors, upon their own showing, by four years of 
either dullness or indifference, during which they could not understand, 
or did not notice, what was '^ mischievous "-—or else by one month of 
audacious and unprincipled calunmy ! We leave it to the nation to de- 
cide for which of these merits it will continue to respect and confide in 
the greater part of the graduates, fellows, and tutors who 
have signed the declaration against Dr. Hampden. 

Still, here is a phenomenon which requires explanation. What new 
circumstances have either enlightened the ignorance of these persons, 
or awakened their slanders ? Whence this hurricane afler so profound 
but, it seems, so treacherous a calm ? Dr. Hampden, in 1834, pub- 
lished a pamphlet, entitled " Observations on Religious Dissent, with 
particular reference to the use of Religious tests in the University ;" 
and, in 1835, he was a strenuous advocate for the measure, which had 
received, it is said, the sanction of the Duke of Wellington, the Chan- 
cellor of the University ; namely, the substituting of a Declaration of 
Agreement with the doctrines of the Church, so &r as the declarant's 
knowledge went, in the place of the unqualified subscription to the 
Thirty-nine Articles, now required of every young man who enters at 
Oxford. It was natural that these acts should throw a new b'ght on all 
that Dr. Hampden had formerly written ; nor can we be sufpriaed 


that the eighty-one graduates, &c., should have partaken in this sud- 
den illumination. 

We return, however, to our narrative. The Corpus new Political 
Union petitioned the Board of Heads of Colleges and Halls, to propose 
to Convocation, two measures ; — one, an address front the University 
to the Bishops, requesting them not to require from candidates for orders 
the usual certificate of having attended the lectures of the Regius Pro- 
fessor of Divinity, but to be satisfied with lattendance on the lectures of 
the Margaret Professor of Divinity, Dr. Fawcett ; — ^the other, a statute 
to be passed hy the University itself, depriving the actual Regius Pro- 
fessor of his voice in the nomination of the select preachers, and also 
in the cognizance of any alleged heretical preaching. B ut the Heads 
of Houses refused to bring forward either of these measures before the 

Undismayed by this check, the unionists, by dint of sheer importu- 
nity and agitation, prevailed upon the Board to depart from their former 
resolution, and to propose the second of the two measures to Convo- 
cation, — the address of the Bishops being tacitly relinquished. Accord- 
ingly, notice was officially given, that on the 22d day of March a Con- 
vocation would be held for the consideration of the proposed statute. 
This precious bill of attainder states, in its preamble, that the Univer- 
sity has no confidence in its Regius Professor of Divinity, in conse- 
quence of the manner in which he has treated theological subjects, in 
his published writings ; and then, an enactment follows, divesting the 
said Professor of the powers which we have mentioned a little above, 
and which are attached to his office. 

It were waste of time to comment on this proceeding ; it were idle 
to dwell on the utter confusion which it exhibits of the simplest prin- 
ciples of good government— on the attempt to substitute the vote of a 
factious majority for the sober judgment of a court of justice — ^to put a 
vague charge of "having forfeited the confidence of the University " 
in the place of the definite, intelligible, and tangible accusation of 
" having preached doctrine contrary to the Articles of the Church." 
For the Church of England, like every other society, is not without a 
legal check upon the conduct of his ministers. If a clergyman's 
preaching be at variance with the tenets of the Church, the Bishop of 
his diocese may take cognizance of it ; or if the aUeged offence be 
committed in Oxford, the University statutes have provided that the 
Vice-chancellor, with the assistance of six doctors of divinity, shall in- 
quire into the truth of the charge, and pass sentence accordingly. If 
Dr. Hampden had really published anything in opposition to the Arti- 
cles of the Church of England, there was a ready way of substantiating 


the charge, and obtaining a censure upon him, from a competent au- 
thority. But the course of truth and honesty was not suited to the 
eighty-one conspirators. They thought that they had a secure majo- 
rity in Convocation, which would vote for anything that they proposed 
to it. A vote, they knew, might give them what they could never dare 
to hope from a verdicL If Justice were to decide upon the case, they 
were sure to be disgracefully defeated ; if Faction could be made the 
judge, they had a reasonable prospect of success. 

Meantime, a charge that dared not abide the decision of a legal tri- 
bunal, was to be supported by evidence worthy of itself. A pamphlet 
was published, entitled '* Elucidations of Dr. Hampden's Theological 
statements," consisting of a number of quotations from his work, classed 
in such an order, and separated in such a manner from the context, as 
might best serve the compiler's purposes. This was foUowed by an- 
other and more elaborate production, in which a number of propositions 
on different points of theology are professedly selected from Dr. 
Hampden's works, and contrasted with the Articles of the Church of 
England — a selection made precisely in the same spirit, and conducted 
with the same honesty, as the famous selection of articles from Wyc- 
liff 's works, which had the honour of being condemned by the Coun- 
cil of Constance. 

We have before us a copy of the ** Elucidations," in which the 
omissions in the pretended quotations there given from Dr. Hampden's 
works have been carefully noted down ; and these omissions happen 
so unluckily to fiiU upon passages which wotdd have altered the whole 
tone and character of the quotation, that there is no possibility of ac- 
quitting the compiler of deliberate dishonesty. For instance, that per- 
son, in order to *' elucidate," which, in his language, means " misre- 
present," Dr. Hampden's Doctrine on the Trinity, begins a quotation 
with this sentence : ** No one can be more convinced than I am, that 
there is a real mystery of God revealed in the Christian dispensation ; 
and that no scheme of Unitarianism can solve the whole of the phe- 
nomena which Scripture records. But I am also as fiilly sensible, that 
there is a mystery attached to the subject, which is not a mystery of 
God ;" and then follows the explanation of this last clause, for which 
the passage has been selected. The appearance, therefore, to the reader 
of the " Elucidations " is necessarily this, that Dr. Hampden, after one 
prefatory sentence expressing, for decency's sake, his belief that there 
was a mystery connected with the divine nature, goes on with great 
satisfaction to dispute, or undervalue the peculiar view of this mystery 
entertained by the Church of England. Accordingly, the pretended 
elucidator observes, in his introduction to this chapter of his work, that 

136 THB OXFORD malionahts* 

" Dr. Hampden holds that there is some mystery in the divine nature ; 
but what that mystery is, or that it is the very mystery which the 
Ca holic doctrine of the Trinity expresses, is, he considers, not re- 
vealed ?" A grave charge undoubtedly against a member and minister 
of the Church of England, which professes its belief in the especial 
doctrine of the Trinity ! But what shall we say to this elucidator, when 
we find that this serious charge rests only on his own direct falsifica- 
tion of what Dr. Hampden has written? For the quotation which 
we have copied is preceded by about a page and a half, in which Dr. 
Hampden has been at great pains to distinguish between the doc- 
trine of the Trinity itself, and the technical language in which it has 
been expressed in the writings of theologians ; and to urge that it is 
only this language which has thrown a difficulty in the way of receiv- 
ing the doctrine ; — " causing," he says, " the wisdom of God to be 
received as the foolishness of man." And then the paragraph with 
which the elucidator's quotation begins, begins in reality with the fol- 
lowing sentence, which alone is sufficient to refute the whole charge 
founded upon its deliberate suppression. ''The truth itself, of the Tri- 
nitarian doctrine, emerges from these mists of human speculation, like 
the bold naked land on which an atmosphere of fog has for a while 
rested, and then been dispersed." It is apparent enough that the at- 
mosphere of fog, of which Dr. Hampden speaks, has rested without 
being dispersed, upon the understanding or conscience of the '' eluci- 

This same falsehood, for it deserves no lighter name, runs through 
all the second pamphlet, the preface to which is actually signed with 
the name of Dr. Pusey. The technical language in which scriptural 
truths have been expressed is carefully confounded with the truths 
themselves. Dr. Hampden as carefully distinguishes them ; repeating 
over and over again his firm belief that the scriptural truths are such 
in substance as the Church of England represents them,— *but agree- 
ing with many other good and sound divines, in regarding the language 
in which they are conveyed in theological writings, as perplexing ; and 
as not setting forth the truth in the same practical manner as it is to 
be found in the Scripture. Now, if a minister of the Church of Eng- 
land did not believe that her articles expressed substantially the truth, 
as it is in the Scripture, he would undoubtedly be guilty of great incon. 
sistency in subscribing them ; but to account historically for the origin 
of the technical language of those articles, — and to separate it from 
the divine truth intended to be expressed by it, is neither inconsbtent 
with the faith of an orthodox Christian, nor with the subscriptions 
signed by a clergyman of the Church of England. 

n» oxFosD XAUoNAim. 187 

With a natural and pardonable eamestnesfy yet pajingt we think, 
far too great deference to charges so worthless in themselves, and 
known to proceed from authors whose censure was to be coveted by 
every good Christian minister, Dr. Hampden's friends were at the 
pains of publishing ** statements of Christian doctrine," extracted also 
from his works ; and containmg a series of passages on every import- 
ant point in theology, so full, so clear, so entirely in unison with the 
doctrines of the Church, and expressed with such intense earnestness 
of sincerity, that it might seem beyond the power of the very spirit ot 
calunmy itself to affix a charge of heresy on their author. It is very 
important also to observe, that these passages are extracted in great 
proportion from a published volume of Dr. Hampden's parochial ser- 
mons ; a work which his calumniators took good care not to notice. 
Now, it is manifest, that the real nature of a man's religious views and 
feelings is to be collected most perfectly from his general pastoral 
preaching to his own congregation ; and not from a set of sermons 
preached on a particular subject, and when that subject is in itself of 
an abstract and unimpassioned character. The subject of Dr. Hamp- 
den's Bampton Lectures was the influence of the Scholastic Philosophy 
on Christianity ; his business therefore was less to enforce the ori- 
ginal truths of the Gospel, than to condemn the corruptions of them ; 
his statements were of necessity negative rather than positive ; con- 
futing error rather than inculcating truth. To quote, therefore, exclu- 
sively from such a work, even had the quotations been fairly made, 
was to give an utterly inadequate and unjust view of Dr. Hampden's 
character as an instructor in positive Christianity. 

In the midst of all this ferment, the day arrived on which Dr. 
Hampden was to deliver his inaugural Lecture. As might have been 
expected, an immense crowd of hearers attended it. It was a trying 
moment ; for as the Professor looked round upon his audience, he saw 
the well-known faces of his persecutors, who had already shown 
abundantly that they were of those who make a man an offender for a 
word, and who were come to his lecture not to be convinced, not to 
be softened, not to listen and to judge with fairness and truth ; but to lay 
hold upon every expression, to misunderstand or misrepresent his mat- 
ter, and to pervert his tone and manner ; — ready to call conciliation 
cowardice, and firmness pride. Yet from this fiery ordeal Dr. Hamp- 
den came forth nobly triumphant. It was touching to observe the sub- 
dued emotions of his countenance, and the unequalled and unexcited 
dignity of his voice : — ^it was beautiful to mark how he had triumphed 
over opposite temptations, — how meekly and patiently he laboured to 
remove misunderstanding, — how honestly he abstained firom one word 



of unworthy compromise, — ^yet how heroically he forebore from every 
expression of resentment or contempt towards the faction of his unwor- 
thy calumniators. We cannot resist the pleasure of copying the con- 
cluding passage of this most Christian address : — 

'* I appeal from an excited spirit to a spirit of soberness and candor ; 
I demand not to be tried by the conclusions of an adverse school, 
but by the calm and gentle reason of men disposed to give me credit 
for no less love of the truth and the faith than themselves, and who 
will openly contend with me by argument, not by censure and intimi- 
dation, and the array of hostile numbers : ' Non tam bene cum rebus 
humanus agitur,' says an 'ancient philosopher, ^ut meliora pluribus 
placeant ; argumentum pessimi, turba est.' And a far greater than 
the philosopher has said : — * Woe unto you when all men shall speak 
well of you.' — 'Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and perse- 
cute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my 
sake.' — ' If any man will come afler me, let him deny himself, and take 
up his cross and follow mc.' These words are my comfort ; I trust he 
who spoke them will enable me to proceed on my way without repining 
at the sufiering through which he has required that I should pass ; and 
without relaxation of spirit in his work under the painfulness of the 
counteraction against which it must be done. I am at all times ready 
to meet fair and free discussion, but to misrepresentation, and clamour, 
and violence, with God's help I will never yield. I pray God to for- 
give those who may have employed such weapons against me, and to 
turn their hearts, and to grant them more of that mind which was in 
Christ Jesus. 

" It is a great grief to me, I acknowledge, to know that there are any 
whose honest though mistaken zeal I may have offended. Such are, I 
trust, open to conviction and kinder feelings ; I should, however, unless 
experience had furnished ample instances of it, wonder that Christian 
zeal should in any individual have carried him to proceedings destruc- 
tive of Christian purity and peace. A sense of Christian duty and the 
kind feelings of the heart will never, I believe, be found apart from 
each other, and least of all, in doing 'the work of the Lord.' 

"Afler all, however, I appear not here as a functionary of the Uni- 
versity or of the Church alone, but as the servant of a Master in Hea- 
ven by whoso judgment I must stand or fall. For let me say it with 
that humility which becomes me in applying to myself such sacred 
words : * With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of 
you or of man's judgment ; yea, I judge not mine own self. For I 
know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified : but he that 


judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until 
the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of dark- 
ness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts ; and then shall 
every man have praise of God.' " 

This might have been thought irresistible ; but faction and fanati- 
cism combined are proof against any impression of truth or goodness. 
The conspirators actually adjourned their meetings from Corpus com- 
mon room to Mr. Baxter^s Printing office ; there, with the press be- 
fore them, they issued with unabated zeal their placards, and circulars, 
and elucidations, and statements, — all designed to fanaticise their parti- 
sans amongst the country clergy, whom they had summoned up to Ox- 
ford to secure their expected triumph in Uie Convocation on the 32d 
of March. 

There is no reason to doubt that their arts would have been success- 
ful ; but the exemplary firmness of the Proctors saved the University, 
for a time at least, from the deep disgrace in which the party would 
have involved it. By the Constitution of Oxford, if two Proctors are 
agreed, they can interpose a veto upon any measure brought forward 
by the Heads of Houses ; and thus prevent it from being submitted at 
all to the votes of the Convocation. On the 19th of March the Proc- 
tors gave official notice of their intention to negative the statute. The 
factious and fanatical party, deceived bv the unscrupulous fidsehoods of 
the Tory newspapers, still expected that there would be a division, and 
crowded up to Oxford. When the 22d of March arrived, they found out 
their error ; — the Convocation was held, and the Proctors, as they had 
declared they would do, put their negative on the statute in the usual 
form. The conspirators and their country disciples consoled them- 
selves by fresh placards, and by a meeting in Brazenose Hall, where 
they had the pleasure of listening to speeches from Lord Kenyon, 
Lord Encombe, Mr. A. Trevor, and Dr. Pusey. 

Thus the persecution rests for the present. But it will be renewed, 
in all probability, early in the next term, when new Proctors will have 
come into office. Meanwhile, we may be thought to have given undue 
importance to these Oxford squabbles ; and to have unwisely gratified 
the vanity of a few obscure fanatics by noticing them in this Journal. 
The individuals^ indeed, are sufficiently insignificant ; — nor shall we, 
by naming them, confer on them that notoriety for which nature has not 
designed them. But the party, unworthy as it is, is yet strong enough 
to be mischievous. Always defeated in the end, it has yet always 
impeded the progress of good, and in some degree marred its triumph; 
so it did at the Revolution of 1688, — so it did at the Reformation. 


The common language, which describes history to be philosophy 
teaching by examples, is an ambiguous expression of a great but ill- 
understood truth. No man would go to history for lessons of private 
morality : we have other far better and readier means of learning 
these. But what history does furnish, when read aright, is a mirror to 
reflect the true character of existing parties, and so, to determine our 
judgment, in taking part with one or another. It gives us this true mirror 
when we have learned, in the parties and revolutions of past times, to 
separate what is accidental and particular from what is essential and 
universal — to fix first the true standard of all political enterprise, and 
then to judge of parties, whatever may be their subordinate resem- 
blances or diflferences, by their attachment or opposition to this one 
great end. Thus we find, that the zealous worshipper of the saints 
and apostles, in the sixteenth century, was the real moral successor of 
their persecutors in the first ; and thus the fanatic who now spreads 
the no-popery war-cry, is the genuine representative of those very 
Papists of the sixteenth century, whose namea ho is overwhelming with 

This is consoling, because it shows that the world has on the whole 
advanced ; — that the heresy of one period becomes the orthodox faith of 
another ; — and that that which great and good men taught at the price 
of their blood, obtains in the end so sure a triumph, that even the low 
and the wicked are obliged to do it homage, and make use of its name 
to exclude that further development of truth which is indeed its own 
genuine child. Thus, even the Tories of our day profess to admire the 
Revolution of 1688 ; but whilst exalting the individual of the race* 
as it were, who has done his appointed work, and has nearly lived out 
his generation, they would fain sec his lineage become extinct for ever, 
and no heir born in due season to continue and improve what he had 
begun. For it is false to say that the reform, or the truth, of a later 
age undoes or despises the reforms and the truths which have preceded 
them. They do not destroy, but complete ; — holding in honor, loving, 
and using the reforms and the truths achieved and discovered by their 
fathers, — but deeming it the worthiest tribute to their fathers' memory 
to imitate their example, by farther reforming and developing some far- 
ther truth, as they did. 

But on the character of no party does history throw so full and 
clear a light as on the High Church party of the Church of England — 
the party of the Oxford conspirators.. Unlike the political Tories, who 
are only analogously like the Tories of the Revolution, by being as 
much in the rear of the existing generation as the old Tories were in 
the rear of theirs, these Church Tories have stirred neither actuaUy nor 


relatively ; they are the very Nonjurors and High Church clergy of 
King William's, and Anne's, and George the First's reign, reproduced, 
with scarcely a shade of difference. Now, as then, this party is made 
up of two elements ; of the Hophni and Phinehas school, on the one 
hand — the mere low worldly clergy, careless and grossly ignorant, — 
ministers not of the Gospel but of the aristocracy, who belong to 
Christianity only from the accident of its being established by law ; 
and of the formalist Judaizing fanatics, on the other hand, who have 
ever been the peculiar disgrace of the Church of England ; for these 
High Church fanatics have imbibed, even of fanaticism itself, nothing 
but the folly and the virulence. Other fanatics have persecuted, like 
the Romanists, in order to uphold a magnificent system, which, striking 
its roots deep, and stretching its branches wide, exercises a vast in- 
fluence over the moral condition of man, and may almost excuse some 
extravagance of zeal in its behalf. Others again have been fanatics 
for freedom, and fi)r what they deemed the due authority of God's own 
word. They were violent against human ceremonies — they despised 
learning — they cast away the delicacies, and almost the humanities of 
society, for the sake of asserting two great principles, noble even in 
their exaggeration, — entire freedom towards man, and entire devotion 
towards God. But the fanaticism of the English High Churchman has 
been the fanaticism of mere foolery. A dress, a ritual, a name, a 
ceremony ; — a technical phraseology ; — the superstition of a priest- 
hood, without its power ; — the form of Episcopal government, without 
the substance ; a system imperfect and paralyzed, not independent, not 
sovereign, — afraid to cast off the subjection against which it is per- 
petually murmuring. Such are the objects of High Church fanati- 
cism ; objects so pitiful, that, if gained ever so completely, they would 
make no man the wiser or the better ; they would lead to no good, in- 
tellectual, moral, or spiritual ; to no effect, social or religious, except 
to the changing of sense into silliness, and holiness of heart and life 
into formality and hypocrisy. 

Once, however, and once only, in the history of Christianity, do we 
find a heresy — for never was that term more justly applied — so de- 
graded and low-principled as this. We must pass over the times of 
Romanists — ^we must go back to the very beginning of the Christian 
Church, and there, in the Jews and Judaizers of the New Testament, 
we find the only exact resemblance to the High Churchman of Ox- 
ford. In the zealots of circumcision and the ceremonies of the law,-— 
in the slanderers and persecutors of St. Paul — the deters upon old 
wives' &bles and endless genealogies — the men of '* soft words and 
fair speeches," — of a " voluntary humility," all the time that they were 


calomniatiDg and opposing the Gospel and its great apostle ; — in the 
malignant fanatics who, to the number of more than forty, formed a 
conspiracy to assassinate Paul, because he had denied the necessity of 
ceremonies to salvation — ^^the men of mint, and anise, and cummin,*' 
who cared not for judgment, mercy, and truth — the enemies and re- 
vilers of the holiest names which earth reverences, and who are con- 
demned, in the most emphatic language, by that authority which all 
Christians acknowledge as divine ; — in these, and in these alone, can 
the party which has headed the late Oxford conspiracy find their perfect 

But we may not press this farther now. Most true and complete as 
is the parallel, and most instructive as it is, towards setting a mark 
upon these revived Judaizers, to warn all Christians against their spirit 
and their practice, yet it would lead us into matter, and thoughts, and 
feelings too deep to find a place here. We turn to a comparison less 
solemn — to a period and a country less remote — to the events of scarce- 
ly more than a century ago — to the spirit and the proceedings of the 
High Church party under the Liberal Government that foUowed the 
Revolution. The tricks that have been now attempted to be played in 
the Convocation of the University were then played in the Convocation 
of the Clergy. There, we find the bigot Dr. Jane, who defeated 
the attempt of King William's government to effect a union between 
the Church and the Dissenters, by the parrot-like repetition of Nolu- 
mu8 leges AngluB mutari. There we find Burnet's Exposition of the 
Articles condemned by the lower House of Convocation, on grounds 
similar to those now urged by the Oxford conspirators against the 
writings of Dr. Hampden; namely, "that it allowed a diversity of 
opinions, which the Articles were framed to avoid ; that it contained 
many passages contrary to the true meaning of the Articles, and to 
other received doctrines of our Church ; and that some things in it 
were of dangerous consequence to the Church, and derogated from the 
honour of the Reformation." Such was the sentence passed by the 
High Churchmen of the last century, upon a book which is now uni- 
versally received as a correct statement of the doctrines of the Church, 
and which is commonly recommended by the Bishop as a companion 
to theological studies of candidates for orders 1 Again, the rancorous 
slanders of the High Churchmen against names amongst the most re- 
vered in the annals of the Church, may sufi[iciently console Dr. Hamp. 
den for the same slanders now vented against himself. The Irish non. 
juror Lesley, in an anonymous pamphlet, professing to be written by 
^ A true son of the Church," and published in 1695, writes thus of 
Avekblshop Tillotson : — " His politics are Leviathan, and his religion is 


ktitudtnarian, which is none ; that is, nothing that is positive, but 
against ererything that is positive in other religions. * * * He is 
owned by the atheistical wits of all England as their true primate 
and apostle. They glory and rejoice in him, and make their public 
boasts of him. He leads them not only the length of Socinianism 
(they are but slender beaux who have got no further than that,) but to 
call in question all revelation, to turn Genesis, &c., into a mere ro- 
mance — ^to ridicule the whole, as Blount, Gildon, and others of the doc- 
tor's disciples have done in print." Lesley goes on to call Tillotson's 
principles '< diabolical," and says that he had by them 'Meeply poi- 
soned " the nation.* And another nonjuror, Hickes, a man, like one 
or two of the Oxford conspirators, much vaunted by his party for the 
pretended holiness of his life, because he used a sentimental style of 
excessive religious feeling in his prayers and other compositions,, 
found his religion perfectly compatible with falsehood and malignity ; 
for he was privy to the writing of this wicked libel, and recommended 
it, hoping that it might see the light before the publication of his own 
discourses upon Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tlllotson.f These men, whose 
intellectual powers were so low, that Dr. Johnson himself, in spite of 
all his prejudices in their favour, declared, " that with one exception, 
he never knew a nonjuror who could reason," appear to have exactly 
reversed the precepts of St. Paul, which bids us *'in malice to be 
children, but in understanding to be men." 

But the Government held on its way in spite of the clamours, the 
constant libels, and the occasional treasons of the High Church clergy. 
It continued to advance real Christians, like Burnet and Tiilotson, to 
such important stations in the Church as fell vacant. The higher 
clergy were thus gradually purified ; and of the lower, the Hophni and 
Phinehas party, seeing which way promotion came, composed their 
outward bearing accordingly, while the more fanatical party died out 
in their own folly. Then came a period in which the spirit of the 
Heads of the Clergy was indeed an honour to the Church of England 
— the period marked by the names of Wake, of Butler, of the apostoli- 
cal Bishop Wilson, and of Seeker — men firm and earnest in the faith 
of the Church of England ; but in whom faith ministered to holiness and 
to charity, because it was the faith of Christians, and not of Judaizers. 

Yet the experience of the last century afifords, in one respect, a 
warning by which we hope that the Liberal Government of the pre- 
sent day will not fail to profit. The poisonous plant of Juiaism was 

• Birch, Life of TiDotflon, p. 297, 3(1 ed. 1753. 
t Birch, ii6t fifpra. 


cut down or withered awaj ; but the root was left in the ground ; aad 
thus, when its season returned, it sprung op again, and is now again 
growing rankly. In other words, Oxford was allowed to retain its ex- 
clusive character — opinions and prejudices of one sort onlr found admis- 
sion to it — it stood aloof from the great mass of the intelligence of the 
nation, neither influencing it, nor influenced bj it. The consequences 
were doubly injurious : Oxford, on the one hand, lived whollv in the 
past, and that past continually viewed amiss ; whilst the active part of 
the nation, finding one of its great seats of education thus incompetent 
to discharge its duties, could but supply its place imperfectly by other 
means. Men's views became too exclusively practical and utilitarian 
— they lived too entirely in the present ; and thus learning decayed, 
and a narrow-mindedness of another sort began to prevail, equally in- 
jurious to that lofty wisdom, which, by ever looking at the present 
through the past, learns thus, and thus only, to provide aright for it 
and for the future. \^e are satisfied that there is a spirit, in an ancient 
and magnificent University like Oxford, far too valuable to be quietly 
suffered to taint and spoil itself by refusing the wholesome combina- 
tions of elements of a dififerent species. If Oxford be lefl alone, and 
a substitute for it be sought in a new University, both will sufiTer, for 
lioth will remain more or less sectarian ; — the High Church fanaticism 
will become more and more inveterate, while it will be met by ex- 
tremes of another sort, not more respectable or profitable. 

One word more in conclusion. We have used the language of se- 
vere condemnation in speaking of the late proceedings at Oxford, and 
of the party which originated them. We should be most unwilling to 
speak harshly of any mere dififerences of opinion, utterly false and 
mischievous as we hold the views of the High Church party to be ; 
yet, if it were merely an inlelleciual error^ it should be confuted, in- 
deed, firmly and plainly, but still, with all tenderness to the persons 
of those who held it. But the attack on Dr. Hampden bears upon it 
the character, not of error, but of moral tcickedness. When men break 
through the charities and decencies of life, to run down a good and 
pious individual — when they raise a cry against him which they know 
will arouse the worst passions, and be re-echoed by their baser follow- 
ers with a violence to shame oven themselves — when they appeal not 
to any legal and competent tribunal, but to the votes of an assembly 
where party spirit is notoriously virulent — when they garble the writ- 
ings of their intended victim, wholly neglecting such as would palpably 
refute their charge, and so detaching the passages which they quote 
from the context, and keeping out of sight the writer's general object, 
as to produce an impression unfair and false — above all, when refusing 


to gire credit to a good man's solemn declarations, thej labour as fitr 
as in them lies to ruin his character, — to say nothing of the acute pain 
occasioned to a noble mind by being insulted with such suspicions, — ^in 
such a proceeding we see nothing of Christian zeal, but much of the 
mingled fraud, and baseness, and cruelty, of fimatical persecution. 
And, for such persecution, the plea of conscience is not admissible ; it 
can only be a conscience so blinded by wilful neglect of the highest 
truth, or so corrupted by the habitual indulgence of evil passions, 
that it rather aggravates than excuses the guilt of those whom it 




[This Essay was originallj published in six snccessiTe articles, in the ''Eng^ishmui's 
Register." They are now combined in one continuous disquisition.] 

'* Understandest thou what thou readest V* — Acts viii. 90. 

The answer given to this question in the stoiy from which it is taken 
must still be the answer of thousands and ten thousands of those 
who have the Bible in their hands, and read it with their eyes and 
their affections. — " How can I, unless some man would guide me ?" 
How indeed can they understand a book written so many ages ago, in 
countries unlike to our own in every point of climate, productions, and 
manners, so little illustrated, in its earliest parts by any other books of 
the same period, and, in many places, obscure in itself, and rendered 
much more so to an English reader by an imperfect translation, and by 
the faulty division into chapters now so universally adopted ? 

It is true that a great many commentaries and helps to the Bible 
have been published ; but still the number of Bibles published is much 
greater, and therefore there may be many persons who may like 
short remarks and explanations on different parts of the Bible as we 
can find room for in the Register. 

No one needs to be told that the general and peculiar character of 
the Bible is religious : that is, it speaks of what God has done for man, 
and what man ought to do towards God. It is a religious book, just as 
a common history of England may be called a political book ; but as 
in a common history there are parts which are not political, such as 
those which give anecdotes of particular individuals, or which speak of 
the state of religion or of the arts and sciences, so there are parts in the 
Bible which are not religious, but merely historical ; that is, which 
contain stories of men and manners, such as might be found in any 
other book, without any particular reference to our relations with God. 

Thus the book of Genesis is, in its general object and character, 
quite unlike any other history. It does not give an account of the most 
powerful kingdoms of the worlds nor of the first settlement of dififer- 


ont tribes of the human race in their several countries, nor of their 
progress in laws, arts, and civilization. Leaving all these things aside, 
as far as its main object is concerned, it looks through the earth onlj 
for the most manifest signs of God's presence, and regards onlj thoee 
persons with whom He has most vouchsafed to communicate. 

It thus begins with the creation of the world — not its origin or com* 
ing into existence, which are mere matters of natural philosophy, but 
its creation — " In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." 
It follows, therefore, that if it is He who has made us, and not we our- 
selves, that we are his people, whollj dependent upon Him, and in an 
unnatural state if ever we forget Him. 

It records the destruction of the inhabited world bj water, for the 
wickedness of the inhabitants. The great destructions of the earth's 
sur&ce both bj water and fire ; the utter extinction of some species of 
animals ; the revolutions in climate that have befallen our globe, and 
the immediate or natural causes which have produced them — ^these are 
all matters of geologj, considered in themselves, and as such the Bible 
sajs nothing about them.* But without telling us at all by what 
natural causes the deluge was effected, the Book of Genesis sees in it 
onlj the first and real cause, God. "I, even I, do bring a flood of 
waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh." 

After the Flood, what may be called our present world began its ex- 
istence. Whatever changes in the earth's surface have taken place 
since that time have been confined only to particular districts, or have 
been too gradual to produce a striking eflectat any one'period. No gene- 
ral destruction has since happened ; but the order of nature has gone on, 
for the most part regularly. The human race, as a body, have since re- 
ceived no special manifestation of God's will, or of his judgment, and 
therefore the Bible, as the history of God's revelations to mankind, 
confines its attention, after the Flood, only to particular nations or to in- 
dividuals, with whom, alone, God did in a special manner communicate. 
In other words, after a brief notice of the dispersion of the descendants 
of Noah into the difiTerent countries of the earth, the Book of Genesis 
takes up the story of Abraham, and all the remaining part of it is 
occupied with the account of his life, and of the lives of his posterity 
for the three generations next following him. 

Abraham is called the Father of the Faithful — in other words, he 
stands at the head of those who, in all ages and all countries, have had 
a revealed knowledge of God, as distinguished from that knowledge of 
Him which we gain by natural reason. This revealed knowledge was 

* Sermon I. tqI. tL 

148 OBNE8I8. 

first given to his natural descendants, the nation of Israel ; it is now 
given to those who are called the heirs of his faith, that is to persons, 
of whatever nation they may be, who believe in the God of Abraham, 
and consider themselves to be sharers in the promises which Abra- 
ham first received, although he was not destined to witness their 

Of these promises, the chief was this, ** that in Abraham's seed 
should all the nations of the earth be blessed." It is a promise simple, 
short, and clear, of which we cannot mistake the meaning, nor dispute 
the fulfilment. Except a few fanatics in wickedness, all then, whether 
believers in Christ or no, will acknowledge that Christianity has done 
more to civilize the world than any other system, religious, political or 
philosophical ; and that it is literally and undeniably true that from an 
Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, all nations have derived the most 
signal blessings. 

/ believe, certainly, that we owe to Christianity something even 
better than civilization : but at any rate, even in its lower sense, the 
promise made to Abraham is fulfilled and fulfilling daily before our 
eyes ; and thus, one of God's earliest revelations recorded in the Bible 
is to us at this day not a matter of faith, but of positive and certain 

It was thus declared, that at some future time some person of Abra- 
ham's descendants should be a blessing to the whole earth. It was 
also said that his descendants should become a great nation. This 
was fulfilled once, for they were at one time a very great nation ; — 
and what has been oflen remarked, they are at this day a nation, though 
not a great one : which is more than can be said of any other people 
on the face of the earth who were a nation as early as the Jews, and 
have sufTcrod so many strange revolutions of fortune. 

The Jewish nation, Abraham's natural descendants, were set apart, 
above all other nations, to receive and keep the revealed knowledge of 
God until the time when that one Person should rise up from among 
them through whom all nations were to bo blessed equally. But it 
should bo observed, that, while set apart to be the keepers of revealed 
religion, there was no special interference with their minds and charac- 
ters to make them fully understand and improve it. Certain truths 
were told them and no more. Truths which miglU indeed have led 
them to a great many other truths, but which would not do so of neces- 
sity. And though from a right knowledge of God wo may make out 
perfectly all our duties to one another, yet it by no means follows that 
we cannot help making thi^m out. Therefore, Abraham and Abra- 
ham's descendants, not having n perfect revelation of their duties to 

oBinuuu 140 

their fellow creatures dUtinctlj given to them^ and not finding it so 
easy as we might £incy to make them out for themselves from what was 
revealed to them about God, were in fact no further advanced in many 
respects than other nations of the same period, and had no higher no* 
tions of moral duty in many points than the heathens around them. 
Nor is this to be wondered at, if we take the Bible as we find it, and 
do not spoil it by foolish suppositions of our own ; if we observe what 
is there said to have been revealed to the early patriarchs^ and do not 
fancy that a great deal more must have been revealed to them, because ii 
is now revealed to us* 

The key to all the difliculties in the Old Testament was to be found *^ 
in one simple truth — namely, that the revelation made to the early patri- 
archs consisted of soma particular points, only ; that although much 
more might have been made out from these in the course of time, yet 
that it does not follow that it must have been, or was made out ; and 
that in a great many points therefore the Patriarchs may have been no 
better informed than the Heathens around them. I call this the key 
to the ditHculties of the Old Testament, because, as all our goodness 
must be judged according to our knowledge, we can well understand 
how men may be spoken of as good, who lived up to the best light of 
their conscience, even though that conscience might have still had 
much to learn. But if, on the other hand, the Patriarclis had the 
knowledge of Christians, then, unquestionably, nothing less than the 
standard o^ Christian excellence can be referred to in judging of their y 
principles and practice. 

It has been made an objection to Mr. Milman's History of the Jews, 
that he lowers our notions of Abraham by calling him a " Sheik," or 
*^ Emir." And indeed so far as these terms are associated in our 
minds with *' Belief in a false Religion," so far they are unworthily 
and improperly applied to the '^ Father of the Faithful." But so far as 
they lead us to think of a state o£ society very little advanced in its 
knowledge of the duties of man to man, and even in some respects of 
the duties of man to God, — a state of society in which slavery, polyga- 
my, and private revenge were held to be perfectly lawful, and which 
was accustomed to make a very wide distinction between false speak* 
ing and false swearing, so far they give us not only the truest, but also 
the most favourable impression of the lives of the Patriarchs. It is bj 
considering Abraham as an Eastern Emir, and as a man living in a 
state of society even less enlightened than that of the East at this mo* 
ment, that we can best appreciate the excellenc6 of his faith, and the 
power of the revelation of God. That unhesitating submission to God's 
command which led him to leave his country and pass all his days as 

150 OBiraE8I8« 

the chief of a shepherd tribe ; that noble sacrifice of all his dearest 
hopes at the call of his Maker, which made him consent to offer up his 
son ; that mingled reverence to God and love to man which appear in 
his earnest intercession for Sodom ; all these points, in which the most 
enlightened Christian cannot surpass him, become still more admirable 
when viewed as showing what the knowledge and love of God can 
effect upon the chief of a wandering tribe, surrounded by examples of 
the completest ignorance of all duty, both religious and moral.* 

Thus also in that most famous action of his life, when he was going 
to offer up his son as a sacrifice, the principle of this great trial was 
the same which has been applied to God's servants in every age, 
whether they were willing to part with what they loved best on earth 
when God's service called for it. But the particular form in which 
this principle was conveyed to Abraham was one suited to the imper- 
feet religious knowledge of that early period. To sacrifice his son as 
a burnt offering to God would be to a Christian, not an heroic act of 
self-denying duty, but one of blasphemous fanaticism, which no evidence 
of its being a divine command could justify ; because it is so contrary 
to the Gospel of Christ, that if an angel from Heaven were to bid us 
do it, we should be bound to reject it with abhorrence. Even afler 
the Law of Moses had been given, which spoke of parents sacrificing 
their children as an abomination which God hated, we cannot conceive 
that such a mode of trial could have been chosen, since it is not so 
much a trial of our faith as an utterly maddening confusion of our 
notions of right and wrong, if we are forced to believe that God com- 
mands us to do what he has himself forbidden. But before the Law, 
before God had declared his abhorrence of human sacrifices, and in an 
age and country where they were resorted to as awful proofs of a wish 
to purchase the favour of Heaven by any sacrifice however costly, the 
command to sacrifice his son would be to Abraham distressing but not 
shocking ; it would be the call of God to the performance of a most 
trying duty, not the dreadful delusion of a fanatic that revelation can be 
contrary to our uncorrupted conscience. 

But if any one should think that the lives of the Patriarchs are ren- 
dered less instructive by being thus considered, or that it is lowering 
the early scripture history if we speak of the actors in it as of men pos- 
sessing far less than a Christian's knowledge of right and wrong ; 
nothing, as it seems to me, can be more unreasonable than such a fear. 
What can be more instructive than to trace the one great principle of 
fitith in God existing in combination with the most dififerent degrees of 

* See ** Eany on the Interpretatioii of Seripture,** vol. il p. 446. 


mmrml knowledge ; yet alwayi so ennobling the character in which it 
dwells as to raise it above the standard of its own times ; and thus to 
witness in each successive generation that it is the true salt of human 
nature, the main element of its highest perfection 7 And as for lower* 
ing the Scriptures, it maj indeed prevent us from superstitiously bestow- 
ing upon imperfect goodness that reverence which can be safelj paid 
to One alone ; but we can have learnt but little of the spirit of the 
Gospel, if because we know our duty more fully than the Patriarchs we 
think ourselves better than they; not considering that as our clear 
light is our heaviest condemnation, so it is their greatest glory, that so 
long before the sun had risen, they yet amid the twilight, could so 
steadily keep the right way. 

Having set out at some length what I conceive to be a principle 
jnost important to the right understanding of the whole of the Old Tes- 
tament, that the revelations made to the Patriarchs were only partial, 
or limited to some particular points, and that their conduct must be 
judged of not according to our knowledge but to theirs, I now shall 
consider some of the particular events recorded in Genesis, beginning 
with the earlier part of it. 

Considering the main object of the Scripture History to be that of 
tracing the religious progress of mankind, or their successive relations 
towards God, the story of the first state of man, and of his fall, contains 
all that we could most expect to find in it For leaving out a great 
many things which certainly we should be very glad to know, but which 
yet belong only to the subject of ordinary history, the story in Genesis, 
following man only in bis relations to God, describes him as being first 
innocent, and then overcome by temptation — as being at first at peace 
with God, and afterwards afraid of Him and averse to Him — as being 
at first completely happy, and afterwards made subject to all those evils 
which we know to embitter the life of man at this day. It is very true 
that there are some things in the first chapters of Genesis which we 
cannot understand, and part of it possibly may be a sort of allegory or 
parable, of which we have not the key ; yet, afler all, there is much 
which is not only intelligible, but which speaks a language no less 
remarkable than valuable. It is most striking, and most original, thai 
the first fault of man should be described as consisting partly, at any 
rate, in a desire afler knowledge, and that this knowledge when gained 
made him feel more unfitted than before for communion with God, and 
more anxious to escape out of his presence. This is remarkable ; for 
the whole tone and language of the Scripture is sensible and manly, 
and ignorance and superstition are continually combated and condemned. 
But unquestionably the Scripture, while encouraging to the utmost all 


knowledge that may help us to do our duty better, does seem habitually 
to discourage the cultivation of the mere intellect, as a thing unfitted 
to our present condition in this world. The pursuit of knowledge for 
its own sake, and for the mere indulgence of our intellectual appetite, 
seems to be regarded pretty nearly in the same light with an excessive 
desire of food for its own sake, for the gratification of our bodily appe- 
tite. There is indeed this great difference between the two, that 
whereas our bodily desires are too low for us, so the desires of our 
mind are too high : the one a good man has outgrown, but for the other 
he is not yet grown enough ; and he is told to wait with patience for 
that more perfect state of being when knowledge may not only be 
safely followed, but may be obtained in its full perfection. That this is 
a true representation of what is best for us in our present state is to 
my mind certain ; if for this reason only, that no one can doubt whether 
the happiness of a family, of a neighbourhood, or of a nation, is best 
promoted by moral excellence or by intellectual ; or, whether, in plain 
terms, he would rather have his son distinguished as a very learned 
man, or as a very good man.* 

All this may be misrepresented, and so rendered false and absurd, * 
exactly in the same way as all sorts of superstitions have arisen from 
over straining the rules of common sense and of Scripture about our 
bodily appetites ; instead of keeping them within proper bounds, men 
have tried to get rid of them altogether, and thus have made them* 
selves very ditferent beings from what God intended them to be. So, 
if a man were to destroy his intellectual appetite instead of regulating 
it ; if he were to think ignorance was good, because knowledge may 
be pursued too keenly ; if he were to trample upon his understanding, 
because some put it as it were in the place of God, then he too would 
act against God's purposes, and instead of becoming good and wise, 
his ignorance would certainly lead him into wickedness. Whereas 
what the Scripture teaches is, to have all our faculties and appetites in 
a healthy and vigorous state, but to take care that each keeps in its 
own proper order ; for if our bodily appetites take the lead over those 
of our minds, we become no better than beasts ; and if our intellectual 
appetites outgrow our affections, and make us forget that we are but 
put into the world to serve God, and do good to man, we are changing 
fast into the likeness of devils. 

In the first chapters of Genesis there are some things which we 
cannot clearly understand ; and that parts of them may possibly be a 
sort allegory or parable, of which we have lost the key. Yet still I 

*S€eSerm.VoLvi The Fall. 


have always thought that what is called the Story of the Fall illustrates 
the actual state of the world in some remarkable points more than is 
commonly noticed. 

The story literally taken represents the offence of the first man and 
woman to have consisted in eating of a certain fruit, which is called 
the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil ; and it goes on 
to state that one consequence of this offence was the sense of personal 
shamCf that sense of decency which has induced almost all nations, 
except some of the most ignorant savages, to wear at least certain 
portions of clothing. The account further states that a part of the 
punishment for this offence consisted in subjecting women to pain and 
danger in the birth of their children, and in imposing upon men the 
necessity of perpetual labour. 

It is also mentioned — and this is a part of the history which is much 
more dwelt upon — ^that in consequence of having broken God's com* 
mandments, man became afraid of God, and wished to escape from His 
presence ; and that he was driven out of the Garden of Eden, that he 
might not eat of the Tree of Life and live for ever ; for now ho was 
not only to labour while he did live, instead of enjoy, but his life was 
after a few years to be at an end, and he was to return to the dust out 
of which he had been made. 

Now that there are things in this account very hard to be understood 
is plain to everybody. But looking at the whole carefully, it seems to 
show that man's first offence was a mixture of the desires of the body 
with those of the mind or intellect ; that it was longing afler sensual 
pleasures and intellectual power. And our present condition in the 
world seems very much to throw light upon the particular nature of the 
punishment inflicted. 

Mr. Malthus has said that men, if left to themselves, have a tenden- 
cy to multiply faster than food can be raised to maintain them. There- 
fore, the population must be checked either by good means or bad ; 
either by men's own prudence and sense of duty before the evil begins, 
or by distress and various kinds of misery in the end. But it has been 
objected that this is accusing God of mismanaging the course of nature, 
and of putting an evil in it which must render happiness here impos- 
sible. The account in the beginning of Genesis seems here to step 
in, and to show that this state of things was in fact intended as a 
punishment ; that it was ordered on purpose that there should be no 
happiness here unpurchased by self denial. The tendency to multiply 
&ster than food can be produced, or in other words, to multiply exces* 
sicdy, seems to be itself a part of the corruption of our nature ; it is 
the dominion of the animal appetite. It is an evil, doubtless, but one 



not of God's original design, but of man's bringing in afterwards. 
He chose to give his animal passions an unnatural strength and power, 
and he takes the consequence. Hence the sufferings of child-birth in 
women and thie necessity of labour in man, were at once the punish- 
ment and at the same time the check upon this evil,- If a man multi- 
plied his children, he must multiply his labours ; while, at the same 
time, he was not cursed to labour without fruit ; but the support which 
he could not get without working, he yet might obtain if he did work 
for it — if not in one country, yet in another — that so, good might still 
be brought out of evil ; and the very necessity of labour always ex- 
isting, and growing out of the very midst of prosperity and increasing 
numbers, might be too powerful even for man's indolence and natural 
feelings, and might force him from the land of his fathers to go and 
subdue and replenish other, even the most distant, parts of the 
\ So far then as man's first offence consisted in longing hUer forbidden 
animal pleasures, and so making his animal desires unnaturally strong, 
so far we see its punishment in that constant tendency to an excess 
of population which obliges him to constant labour and self-restraint. 
And so far as his offence consisted in longing dSiQT forbidden intellectual 
pleasure, and so making his intellectual desires, his curiosity, and thirst 
of knowledge in itself, unnaturally strong, so far we see its punishment 
in that sentence of death and bodily infirmity which of necessity hum- 
bles the pride and cuts short the inquiries of the wisest. On the very 
verge of strong intellectual excitement is madness, incurred too com- 
monly by an absence of wholesome control over our passions, intellec- 
tual as well as bodily — ^the natural termination of restless and selfish 
desires, whatever be their particular kind. And this is a disease 
which increases with the increase of civilization ; the greater the ex- 
citement produced by a strong competition in everything, and by an 
almost feverish activity both of body and mind, the more is our reason 
. endangered. 

Thus far then the two-fold character of the original ofience, as re- 
corded in the earliest chapters of Genesis, corresponds with what we 
see now daily before us ; — and what is described as having been ad- 
judged as its punishment is, in fact, in daily operation, and rendering 
it impossible that this world should ever be a place of perfect bodily 
or perfect intellectual enjoyment. We all see that we are born 
under a necessity to labour. We see too that all our plans and all our 
undertakings are cut short by bodily decay and death. 

But there is something more in this word "death," according to the 
Scripture account of it, than the mere end of our life here : it is spokea 

OSHB8I8. 195 

of in darker terms than as a mere falling asleep for ever. And this 
fiuther sense of the term, this worst evil of our natural condition since 
the fall, I am now proposing to consider. 

As man's first fault seems to have consisted in an excessive indul- 
gence of his bodily desires, and in an excessive indulgence of his Intel- 
lectual desires, so the punishment was exactly fitted to the ofilence ; 
inasmuch as this world can never be a place of perfect bodily or perfect 
intellectual enjoyment. But there are other desires in man besides 
those of his body and his intellect ; there are the desires of his spirit, 
his wish to know God, and his desire to be happy with Him, and in 
Him. It is very true that in too many of us, as we now are, there 
seems to be no such wish or desire at all ; we are too often what the 
Scripture would call, dead to God ; yet if we argue upon it coolly, such 
wishes and desires are just and reasonable, and in the best men they 
do exist as a matter of fact. I call them, therefore, natural, as being 
required by our nature in theory, and actually existing in the best 
specimens of it; although in the common and imperfect specimens 
they are wanting. These desires then after God were, by the first sin 
of man, thrown down from being the strongest principles in us, to be 
the very feeblest : the desires of the body and the mind quite overgrew 
them. This is what may be calle^ the natural eflect of the Fall, and 
it brought with it its own punishment ; for having ceased to care about 
God, or to love him, we shut ourselves out, in a manner, from the 
highest happiness of a created being, and that which at once ensured 
immortality — we undid the relation between us and our Maker and 
Preserver, withdrawing ourselves from the care of His providence, and 
subjecting ourselves to whatever fate may attend those for whom His 
protecting care watches no longer. 

What seems intended then by the word "death," in the Old Testa- 
ment, is principally "a state of final separation from God." He is no 
longer our God, and we are no longer the objects of His care. If there 
were no God, and if all things in the universe were to become at once 
a blank when this mortal life were over, death would then indeed be no 
more than an eternal sleep, and we might easily train ourselves to 
regard it with no terror ; but as God lives for ever, and His power fills 
the whole universe, death is dreadful on two accounts, first, for what it 
deprives us of — an eternity of happiness with God — and next, for what 
it may subject us to in an eternity passed without Him. 

The very ungodliness then which prevails so commonly in the world, 
is the actual seal and assurance of this most awful sentence of death.^ 
Men are too often separated from God actually — they believe not in 
Him, care not for Him, are, in short, living without Him in the world. 


They are, in the Scripture language, dead and condemned already, 
having shut their eyes, and closed their hearts against the fountain of 
light and life. They have denied Him, and are denied by Him. They 
look upon the universe as on a system without a governor ; and to them 
it will be so for ever. They will probably never know any more of 
God than they do now : to them the universe will contain nothing wiser 
or better than themselves. And this now for a few years, and with 
God's Qreatures given them to enjoy, they find to be sufRciently tolera- 
ble ; but when all these creatures are taken away from them, when left 
to themselves, and to the society of such as themselves only, nothing 
can be conceived so miserable as such a state — a state of death to 
every thing good and happy, and of the full experience of unmixed evil 
in themselves and others for ever. 

THE filfiLE. 


'* Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be 
forgiven him ; but whosoever shall speak against the Holj Ghost, it 
shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to 
come." — Matt. xii. 32. — Every one who reads his Bible for the first 
time, when he comes to this passage, asks anxiously, what does it mean 7 
— ^what is this sin which shall never be forgiven, either in this world, 
or in the world to come ? Some who have tried to explain it have said 
that it is a sin which cannot be committed now ; while others have 
made themselves very unhappy from the foar that they themselves have 
committed it. But both are mistaken ; for it is a sin which is com- 
mitted unhappily every day : but it is most certain that they who are 
afraid of having committed it are the persons, above all others, who 
must be innocent of it« 

Christian reader I it can scarcely happen in these days but that you 
must have heard or read some things in the course of your life un- 
friendly to the Master whom you profess to serve. But it is of great 
consequence that you should be able to distinguish which of these things 
seem like blasphemies against the Son of Man and which appear to be 
blasphemies against the Holy Ghost. 

By the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit of God, is meant God speaking to 
men in such a language that no honest mind can mistake who it is that 
is speaking. Thus miracles wrought to confirm the doctrine of Christ 
are said to have been wrought by the Holy Spirit, because by them 
was shown a more than human power exerted in the cause of good; 
and much more may the Holy Ghost be said to be the author of all 
good desires, good thoughts, and good principles, inasmuch as these all 
bear most manifestly upon them the seal of God speaking in them. So 
the Holy Ghost inspired the apostles to deliver those great truths which 
are contained in their epistles, and which also commend themselves to 
the thinking mind as the fruit of a wisdom and goodness not less than 
divine. It is manifest, therefore, that although miracles have long 
since ceased, yet that other works of the Holy Spirit still are being 


daily wrought, and that in these he maj be still as much as ever bias* 

It is then a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit when any man speaks 
against Christianity because he cannot bear the purity of its spirit and 
the wisdom of its doctrines. It is a blasphemy against the Son of Man 
only when any one from ignorance, or prejudice, or carelessness, does 
not know what Christianity is, and speaks against it under a false 
impression of its being unfavourable to human virtue and happiness. 
For instance : in Roman Catholic countries, where the Scriptures 
themselves are not commonly read, a great number of persons speak 
against the Son of Man ; and even in Protestant countries it may very 
otlen happen that men, not having been religiously brought up, and 
taking their impressions of Christianity upon trust, may confound it 
with the abuses of the Establishment, or with the errors, or bigotry, or 
servility, of some of its ministers, and thus dislike it, not for its good, 
but for its supposed evil. Such unbelief, although showing great 
unfairness, or at any rate, most blameable carelessness, is yet a very 
different thing from blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, because it does 
not of necessity show any dislike of goodness or love of evil. 

But when a man knows what Christianity is, and hates it for that 
very reason — when he speaks against it, not from a mistaken impres- 
sion that it favours evils which it in fact condemns, but because its 
spirit is pure and meek and self-denying, and he is lustful, and revenge, 
ful, and selfish, then ho speaks not against the Son of Man only, but 
against the Holy Ghost: he has chosen to love evil and hate good, and 
if good triumph he must be for ever miserable. This is not an imagi- 
nary case only — there have been, and are, too many instances of it ; 
but in imputing guilt so dreadful and so hopeless, none but he who sees 
the heart can dare to fix on any particular individual. 

Still there is a use in looking at a picture so terrible. In the first 
place, men who, while they attack Christianity, show that they really 
do hate it for its own sake ; men who say that revenge is a virtue and 
sensual indulgence no sin, — such men are not to be feared as danger* 
ous enemies, but rather regarded as awful witnesses to the truth of the 
gospel. Far from their unbelief making against Christianity, it con- 
firms it : for the Christian Scriptures say, not only that such men as 
these may be unbelievers, but that they must be so, that they are of 
necessity blinded to the truth, and that this blindness is a part of their 
punishment, because " they had pleasure in unrighteousness." Take 
up a tract or a paper written by men of this kind, and if you find in one 
page that all your bad passions are roused and encouraged, that the 
book is putting you into a state of mind which is neither good nor 


happy, hope, rather than fear, that the next page may| contain some 
open blasphemy against your Saviour and his gospel./ It is all right 
and fitting that they who love evil should hate good ; the only way in 
which such wretches can honour Christianity is by abusing it. 

But for ourselves. Christian reader, we may draw this lesson, that 
any allowed carelessness of practice and much more any one unchris- 
tian principle cherished within us is sure to weaken and will in the 
end destroy our faith. A man may ruin his power of believing the 
gospel as surely as he may his power of relishing plain and wholesome 
food ; indulged bad passions and neglect of God will as surely destroy 
the one as a course of drunkenness or gluttony will destroy the other. 
And the wickedness and unbelief help each other forward ; the more 
wicked a man is, the less can he believe ; and the weaker his faith, the 
more fearlessly does he plunge into wickedness. Let us only love God 
and try to please him, and all the infidel books in the world cannot 
really hurt us ; they may disturb our understandings and greatly affect 
our comfort but they will never overthrow our feith ; for let all the 
doubts and difficulties that the most diseased scepticism has ever ima- 
gined be brought together, and what do they amount to ? They may 
infinitely darken our prospects of happiness, but with the words of Christ 
and his apostles in our hands, so full of wisdom and goodness, so en- 
tirely claiming our admiration ancf love, we should still desire to live 
and die Christians, even if our hopes of eternal life were far more 
clouded and uncertain than, thanks be to God, they are in reality. 





In the following pages my main object has been to correct the preva- 
lent impression, that it may be wrong in a religious point of view to 
grant the Catholic claims, but it cannot be more than inexpedient to 
reject them, I have therefore argued the Question on the grounds of 
right : although in the ordinary discussion of it, the topic of right is 
one which it is on many accounts better to waive ; and where the oppo- 
nents of the Catholics do not make conscience their plea for resisting 
the claims, it is enough to press them on grounds of political expedi- 
ency. My particular object will account for my omission of many pow- 
erful arguments which are usually brought forward in favour of conces- 
sion ; and especially for my not noticing more at length the trite ob- 
jection, that the measure now before Parliament is an inroad upon the 
constitution ; whereas it is in fact the fulfilment of it, if by the consti- 
tution bo meant a system for the government of the commonwealth on 
the principles of liberty and justice. 

For my writing on the Catholic Question, I need oiler no other justi- 
fication than the universal interest it excites, and the great misappre- 
hension and irritation which exist concerning it. I write, because I 
wish to remove the one and allay the other among that class of men, 
who require arguments difFerent from those commonly used in the po- 
litical and Parliamentary discussions on the subject. 

Rugby, 1829. 

The political merits of the Catholic Question have been too often and 
too ably discussed, and the political authorities in favour of what is 
called Emancipation are too overwhelming, to render it necessary at 
this late period to state the grounds of national expediency on which 
that great measure may be defended. But the most respectable oppo- 

OHBUTXAir Dmnr, ^. 161 

nentf of the CatholicSt including, I believe, a large propoition of the 
Clergy of the Church of England, consider the Question in a higher 
light ; they tbiftk that it involves more than political interests ; that to 
admit Catholics to become Members of the Legislature would be most 
injurious to the cause of the Protestant Religion ; and that therefinre 
no viewjs of worldly policy should induce a good man to compromise 
the service of God, and in effect to sacrifice his highest duty for the 
sake of obtaining a temporal advantage. ' 

This is at once to put the Question on its true grounds : fi>r as par- 
ties and public bodies are made up of individuals morally and reli- 
giously responsable ; and as no individual Christian, who values his 
salvation, can knowingly prefer any temporal benefits however great 
to the strict line of his Christian duty ; it is manifest that Parliament 
ought to reject the Catholic claims, even with the certainty of thereby 
provoking a civil war, if it be indeed a sin against God to grant them. 
I am therefore not only willing to consider the Question as one of duty 
rather than of expediency, but it is my earnest wish to do so. These 
are the principles on which it becomes a Christian to argue ; and woe 
to him who for party, or even for national considerations, allows him- 
self to lower the high standard of Christian perfection ; to value civil 
privileges and political freedom beyond a single and unwavering devo- 
tion to the will of God. 

It will be my endeavour then in the following pages to prove. 
First, that it is the direct duty of every Englishman to support the 
claims of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, even at the hazard of injur- 
ing the Protestant Establishment ; because those claims cannot be re- 
jected without great injustice ; and it is a want of feith in God and an 
unholy zeal to think that he can be served by injustice, or to guard 
against contingent evil by committing certain sin. 

Secondly, that as the path of duty is the path of wisdom, so the 
granting of the Catholic claims, to which we are bound as a plain point 
of duty, will in all human probability greatly benefit the cause of Chris- 
tianity ; that it will tend to purify the Catholic Religion in Ireland from 
its greatest superstitions, and gradually to assimilate it more and more 
to Protestantism. 

The principle of the first assertion, when addressing myself to con- 
scientious Christians, I need not waste time in proving. No good man 
in our days would defend the practice of pious frauds, or of supporting 
the interests of his Church by persecution. If then the exclusion of 
the Catholics of Ireland firom their civil rights be an act of injustice, 
or in other words if it be a sin when knowingly committed, it is not a 
lawfiil means of advancing or defending the Protestant Religion. 


Now ill order to shew that this exclusion is unjust, it will be neces- 
sary to ascend to higher principles than those to which its advocates 
generally appeal ; and to shew that these higher principles can alone 
in fact determine the merits of the Question. And it is here that good 
men are blinded, as we shall see hereafter, by an original error in 
their political opinions ; which being in its very essence destructive of 
our notions of justice, distorts the view of every political question, and 
makes those who entertain it mistake habitually wrong for right and 
right for wrong. 

Nothing has ever been more pernicious to the growth of human vir- 
tue and happiness than the habit of looking backwards rather than for- 
wards for our model of excellence. The individual who should com- 
pare his life with what he himself w^as in his earlier years, instead of 
contrasting it with that high Christian standard which he never yet has 
reached, but which it should be his daily prayer and labour to reach 
hereafter, would assuredly go back rather than improve in goodness 
and wisdom. And so on.a larger scale is the improvement of civil so- 
ciety obstructed, by referring to its actual origin and past foi*tunes, ra- 
ther than contemplating that hitherto unattained excellence, to which, 
if it rightly used its increasing experience, it should be approaching in 
every generation successively nearer. We might as well build our 
ships after the model of our forefathers' coracles, as endeavour to find 
the principles of wisdom and justice developed in our forefathers' go- 
vernment. Necessity or chance led to the first rude attempts at navi- 
gation : force and cunning were the predominant elements in the con- 
stitution of the earliest civil societies. The supremacy of strength 
and intellect over weakness and ignorance is no doubt sufficiently na- 
tural : so is selfishness natural ; and nothing could be more in accord- 
ance with our unimproved nature, than that the strong and the wise 
should possess a pre-eminence and abuse it. Governments then be- 
ing established, some on the base of mere physical force, some on 
priestcraft, and others on a mixture of both these elements, the lan- 
guage of the laws which were framed by the governing powers was 
naturally adapted to the principles and interests of the framers. And 
as these principles were very difierent from those of justice and true 
wisdom, so the written or municipal law w^as also very different from 
that unwritten and universal law, whose '* seat is in the bosom of God, 
whose voice is the harmony of the world." 

But the dictates of this divine law were never wholly unknown to 
men ; and their excellence is such, that those who hated them most 
were often ashamed openly to dispute them. Those who suflfered un- 
der the yoke of a tyranny grounded upon force or superstition, appealed 


to justice as the most powerful advocate of the weak against the strong : 
they gave currency to her language, and asserted her principles ; and 
even when success had comipted them, and made them inclined them- 
selves to forget her, yet the good which they had done continued to ex- 
ist in spite of them : the truths by which they had profited remained 
to instruct others also ; the wisdom of which they had opened the 
spring for their own necessities, flowed forth with a perpetual stream 
to refresh far distant lands. Meanwhile the language of municipal 
law underwent a very partial improvement. It ceased to press upon 
that part of the community who had succeeded in releasing themselves 
from bondage ; and sometimes those who had obtained a participation 
in political power introduced into its enactments some of those just 
principles to which they had been indebted for their own deliverance. 
But the selfish fear, that from henceforth they had more to lose than to 
gain from the general ascendancy of truth and justice, disposed them 
to limit the application of those principles to their own particular case ; 
and to shrink from substituting them broadly and universally for the 
language of the older constitution of things. 

The repetition of this process in successive generations brings us to 
a state of things, in which most classes of the community have secured 
to themselves all the rights which equal justice could require ; in which 
all have gained the simplest and mosl necessary of these rights ; in 
which the great principles of the eternal law are most widely kno>vn, 
and upheld by the unanimous voice of the wise and good ; but in which 
the municipal or written law of the land has not yet learnt to avow 
those principles, but still retains amidst great partial improvements 
much of the narrow and iniquitous spirit of its earliest origin. It was 
at first a mere system of exclusion : and so far from being the stand- 
ard in great questions of national right, every victory gained by public 
right has necessarily led to the improvement of the law, and could have 
only been rendered legal by the law's alteration. Nay, as those very 
alterations from various causes have generally expressed the particu- 
lar application of principles, rather than the principles themselves, and 
as their particular application may greatly vary with times and circum- 
stances, so it may sometimes happen, that laws promulgated in one age 
to further the cause of liberty and justice, may in another have the very 
opposite tendency, and must be repealed in the letter if we wish to ful- 
fil their spirit. 

What I meant then by the original error of the political creed of 
many good men, is the principle that in all questions of political altera- 
tion the presumption is against change. Now on the contrary the pre- 
sumption is always in &vour of change, because the origin of our ex- 



isting societies was an unjust and ignorant system ; because where 
that system has not been altered, it must require to be so ; and even 
where it has, as the alteration was often of a temporary and particular 
nature, a fresh improvement will be generally desirable, i£ we wish to 
secure the substantial principle of justice and wisdom. 

A similar fallacy is involved in another argument, conmionly used 
by the enemies of improvement, that the constitution must not be tam- 
pered with* Now this is a plea of considerable weight wherever tho 
existing order of things is the result of one comprehensive plan ; where- 
ever the claims of the different elements of the social body have been 
impailially weighed, and each has received that exact proportion of 
power and consequence which a sound view of the general good would 
assign to it. Under such circumstances partial alterations may mar 
the syTiimetry of the whole ; and a general change is not likely to be 
needed. But where the existing constitution is the mere result of va- 
rious partial and independent reforms, each of which redressed one 
pailicular grievance, while incongruities in the rest of the body politic 
were suflered to continue unheeded ; it is worse than idle to speak of 
it as one uniform system^ digested by comprehensive wisdom ; and to 
deprecate the repetition of those particular reforms to which all its ei- 
cellence is owing, and which may by easy gradations bring it at last 
to a practical perfection, without the necessity of a complete revolu- 

These remarks apply to the history of almost all nations ; except 
those which have received an entire constitution at one particular time, 
founded on comprehensive views of the rights and interests of all or- 
ders of men in the country, and providing justly and wisely for the good 
of each and of alb Where such a constitution has been digested, 
proposals for any partial subsequent reforms are justly to be regarded 
with strong suspicion ; because where the parts of a system have been 
expressly framed with a view to each other and to the whole, an ahera- 
tion in any one of them introduced with a particular object is likely to 
harmonize ill with the rest, and to produce a general inconvenience 
greater than the local one which it was designed to remedy. 

But it has rarely or never happened that the terms of this hypothe- 
sis have been fully complied with. In the constitutions given by the 
lawgivers of antiquity, or in that actually enjoyed by the United States 
of America, although these were framed much more on certain gene- 
ral principles than the constitutions of modem Europe, yet there was 
an order of men which they did not embrace^ which formed no part in 
the civil edifice, and with regard to which the system of the legislator 
waa imperfect, and required future revision. While ail classed of cUi- 

ram xoxan oatkolxo clazxi. 169 

zen9 were pronded Ibr, there was a class of men which remained un- 
regarded, and whom justice seemed to have abandoned — the class of 
predial or domestic slaves. Among the ancient lawgivers, indeed, the 
time perhaps was never contemplated, when justice should have her 
perfect work, and all who possessed the same human nature should be 
regarded as fit elements of civil society. But now that Christianity 
has so greatly enlarged and purified our notions of moral good, all sys« 
tems, where slavery exists, are regarded as confessedly imperfect, and 
the propriety of improvement, confessed by all as a question of princi- 
ple, is only contested on particular and temporary grounds. I have 
shewn, that even the cases which I acknowledge as exceptions are not 
to be considered as altogether such, in order more fully to confirm the 
general statement, that considering the origin and subsequent history 
of civil societies, there is a presumption a priori in favour of any al- 
teration, whose avowed tendency is to extend or enlarge the enjoyment 
of civil rights. 

And now, I would ask of those who shrink from what they call libe- 
ral opinions, as if they were connected with a disregard for Christiani- 
ty, in what do the opinions which have been here expressed differ firom 
the spirit of the Gospel t Is it unchristian to labour to effect the de- 
struction of injustice ; to promote the growth of equal rights ; to ad- 
vance the physical and moral condition of mankind by applying to the 
constitution of society those notions of perfect goodness and wisdom, 
which the Gospel, and the Gospel alone, has taught us t Or will it be 
said, that all worldly objects are too insignificant to engage the atten- 
tion of an heir of immortality ? Yet it is only by the pursuit of some 
woridly object that we can perform our worldly duty, and so train our- 
selves up for immortality ; it is by improving the various faculties that 
are given to us that we can fit ourselves for our everlasting habitations. 
Or can the relief of the ordinary physical wants of individuals be so 
high and essential a virtue, and yet the remedying those political evils, 
which afiect both the physical and moral condition of millions, be no 
fit object of our exertions ? And since in the present state of society " 
we can scarcely avoid being called upon to act, or to express an opin- 
ion directly or indirectly upon public matters which may influence the 
conduct of others, is it well to remain in such ignorance of the princi- 
ples and fects of political science, that our practice is but a leap in the 
dark, and our advice and influence can do nothing but mislead ? 

But it may be said existing laws and existing governments are in- 
vested with the authority of God, and cannot be resisted without sin. 
It does not indeed require the light of Christianity to teach us, that no 
individual can be justified in ofilering active physical resistance to the 


government, of in disobeying the laws for any private advantage of his 
own. Metellus Numidicus understood the duty of passive obedience, 
when ho yielded peaceably to an unjust sentence of banishment, and 
would not suffer his party to procure its repeal by violence. And cer- 
tainly our Lord's strong expressions, when enjoining his disciples to 
resist not evil, must apply even more strongly, when the resistance, 
besides implying a want of meekness in ourselves, would also disturb 
the general peace of society. So also under a system of oppressive 
taxation, if the existing laws however unjustly authorise the exaction, 
then we are bound to be subject not only for wrath but also for con- 
science' take ; we should not presume to think that the injustice of 
the tax warrants us in evading it. But as the first Christians, while 
they never defended themselves by physical force, yet persevered in 
the most determined efforts to overthrow^ the established idolatry and 
corrupt practices of the Roman empire, and laboured earnestly to in- 
troduce a purer system in their room ; so should we labour, every man 
accoitling to his knowledge and influence, that established injustice 
and corruption should be overthrown, and that such laws as are oppres- 
sive or partial should be laws no longer. And is this only to be ef- 
fected by violence ? or does not experience shew that steady persever- 
ance in a just cause mostly renders violence unnecessar}'- ; and that 
truth when scaled by the labours, the sufferings, nay, if it be needful, 
even the blood of its advocates, at last shames the few who have con- 
tinued longest to oppose it from any further struggle against it ? Or 
when its converts are become so numerous, that it is no more a small 
body of individuals striving to reform a corrupt state of society, but the 
society itself is divided, each division containing within itself the ele- 
ments of a distinct social existence, numbers, and wealth, and rank, 
and intelligence ; by what other laws can their mutual relations be 
judged, than by those which apply not to individuals the subjects of one 
society, but to the several societies of the human race themselves, who 
acknowledge no common law but that founded on the eternal princi- 
ples of justice ? Then if a contest ensue, its lawfulness must be decid- 
ed on the same grounds which determine our judgment of national 
wars : one party must incur deep guilt in drawing the sword ; but to 
which the guilt is to be attached depends solely on the merits of the 
question at issue, and in no degree on the former relation which sub- 
sisted between them while they were parts of the same society. 

I may be allowed perhaps to notice one other impression, which 
tends strongly to indispose many minds a priori to what are called 
liberal principles : and this is the notion that the advocates for im- 
provement rest their cause solely on theory, that the existing state of 


things may indeed be of:en liable to objection on abstract principles, 
but that practically it works and has worked well. No answer has 
been more frequent than this in the mouths of the enemies of Reform ; 
none perhaps has so oflen satisfied the rising scruples of honest but 
ignorant minds, and persuaded them that they may shut their eyes upon 
the evils which they see around them, for that the whole system with 
its evil and its good has had the sanction of experience ; and that the 
plans proposed for its amendment are but the dreams of ingenious 
theorists, the mere imagination of intellectual enthusiasts. Now this 
belief^ so injurious to our own moral improvement, as it accustoms us 
to a contented acquiescence in moral evil, is either altogether founded 
on falsehood, or is wholly inapplicable to the conclusions which they 
who inculcate it wish to make its practical consequence. It is false 
that experience sanctions existing institutions, and that theory alone ob- 
jects to them. What is called theory, is in fact a wider experience 
than that which pretends exclusively to the name. The practical man 
sets his own individual experience, limited in place, and most span-like 
in duration, against that accumulated experience of many countries and 
all ages, whose conclusions he calls a theory. Ho presumes to 
judge of the whole by that small part of it which he has himself wit- 
nessed : he has seen the first stages only of intoxication, and knowing 
nothing but from his own observation, he calls it mere theory, when he 
is told that the short-lived merriment and animation which had so 
charmed him, would surely be followed by stupefaction and nausea. 
The effect of institutions can only be judged of after an experience far 
longer than the longest life of an individual ; nor will one single speci- 
men inform us how far local or temporary causes may have aggravated 
or soflened their inherent properties. They must be watched from 
their origin to their extinction ; their natural consequences must be 
distinguished from their accidental results ; the experiment must be 
tried on various subjects in order to be satisfied that its operation is 
uniform ; before we can be fairly said to judge of them from expe- 
rience. But this true experience, furnishing indeed a safe and univer- 
sal rule, is no other than What is often called theory ; unattainable to 
the vulgar, because it alike exceeds their perseverance, their grasp of 
mind, and their capacities of discrimination ; and hated by the igno- 
rant and low principled, because it is at once above their reach, and 
because its lessons offer no apology for institutions founded on injustice, 
and supported by selfishness and folly. 

So far then it is false, that men who are well acquainted with per- 
sons and things now existing, men who have mixed extensively in so- 
ciety in their own country, but whose knowledge of other times and 


Other countrie8*is exceedingly imperfect, have any right to put their 
experience on a level with that far more universal experience which 
thinking and inquiring minds have gained from a comprehensive study 
both of the present and the past. But if many of the advocates for 
reform in various parts of our institutions have been theorists in the 
true meaning of the term, if they have ventured to form conclusions on 
an imperfect induction, or from some defect in themselves have pro- 
posed systems almost as faulty as those which they wished to alter, 
they individually may be undeserving of confidence ; yet this &ilure 
affords not the shadow of an excuse for the vaunts of their adversaries. 
'* Even a one-eyed man is a king amongst the blind ;" and the glim- 
mering of twilight is better than the thick darkness on which it 
has begun to dawn. Let the light indeed shine more and more unto 
the perfect day ; but let us not so complain of the indistinctness of the 
dawn as to prefer the unbroken obscurity of midnight« Let those who 
complain of the ill-grounded theories of reformers reprove their &ult 
in the best manner, by working their way themselves to a fuller know- 
ledge ; but let them not rest contented in the very depths of ignorance, 
because those who have essayed to soar into a purer region, have been 
unable in their first trial to escape altogether beyond the range of the 
mists of the valley. 

But is there then so much to learn, and have our forefathers indeed 
lived in so intense a darkness ? Let any Christian look first upon the 
volume of the New Testament, and then turn his eyes to the existing 
state of society, to the wars of ambition, to the conquests, the persecu- 
tions, the corruptions, the sufferings, the low principles, and lower prac- 
tice, which have prevailed during the last eighteen hundred years, 
amidst men who have professed the Christian faith, and called them- 
selves the redeemed and sanctified people of God ! Alas ! for the 
words of Christ's Prayer, so often repeated in mockery, when we daily 
beg of God that his kingdom may come, whilst our institutions, oor 
principles, and our practice uphold the kingdom of another master I 
Alas ! For the unfulfilled promises of the older prophecies, whose ac- 
complishment has been so long hindered, while we either regard them 
as a splendid vision of eastern fancy, or murmur and are oflTended, be- 
cause the blessings designed for a world that should be the image of 
Heaven have found no place amidst our evil passions and abounding 
iniquity ! Dissatisfaction with ourselves is wisdom, but it is the most 
fttal folly to gaze with regret upon the past, rather than to turn with an 
eager and inquiring hope to the future. We are not worse than our 
fiUhers ; it is shame enough that we are not more advanced than we 
^le beyond their exceeding badness ; but our desire should be to be ten 


Uiousand times better ; not looking buck to the things befiind, but press* 
ing forward to those that are before, until we grow up into the perfect 
man ; into the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, 

I write as a Christian to Christians, and I have thought it neither 
irrelevant to my particular subject, nor generally unimportant, to en* 
deavour to point out the unchristian tendency of those prejudices in 
&your of past times and established institutions which with too many 
close the ears and the understanding against the claims of truth and 
justice. Whereas he who knows the origin of society and its actual 
yicissitudcs on the one hand, and has learnt from Christ's Gospel to 
understand what it ought to be on the other, will at once see that the 
antiquity of an institution does not afford a presumption in favour of 
its excellence ; and that instead of idle language about holding fast to 
the laws of our ancestors, our constant object should be to carry on 
those successive improvements to which all that is good in them is 
owing ; not to doat upon the productions of our childhood, but to labour 
to bring them to the perfection of the ripest wisdom of manhood. And 
we shall find that in the consideration of our inunediate subject these 
general principles are peculiarly applicable. 

The origin of the present form of civil society in Ireland was con- 
quest ; and what was more unfavourable to the establishment of just 
institutions, it was a conquest obtained over a barbarous people by 
another scarcely less barbarous, and of a race and language at once 
distinct and dissimilar. Now in that order of God's providence by 
which even our wickedness is sometimes made to promote his purposes 
of good, it cannot be denied that the ultimate consequences of con* 
quest have been in many instances highly beneficial to the conquered 
themselves ; a better national character has been produced by the in- 
termixture of different races, and laws, commerce, and general civili- 
zation have been communicated by the conquerors to their subjects. 
To talk in this case of a continued right in the conquered people to re- 
gain by force that which they had lost by force is palpably foolish, for in 
a few generations there are neither conquerors nor conquered remain- 
ing, but one united people sprung from the intermixture of both, and 
professing in its improved moral and physical condition reasons fi>r re- 
membering only with thankfulness the cause which first brought its ^ 
two elements into contact. But where the wounds inflicted by the first 
conquest have never been suflered to heal ; where the conquerors 
have continued to form a distinct people, and the conquered have been 
regarded as an inferior race ; where conquest, in short, has never been 
softened into union, but retains all the harshness of its original features^ 
aggravated by successive centuries of irritation; luch a state of Ihingi 



is a perpetual <;rime, and the original guilt of the conquerors must fin* 
ever extend to their posterity, so long as by neglecting to remedy or 
palliate its evil consequences they make themselves a party to it It 
is too late then to talk of the inconveniences of extending the rights of 
citizens to those whose peculiar opinions disqualify them for an union 
with their conquerors. We brought them forcibly into our national so- 
ciety, and we must not shrink from the just consequences of our own 
act. And the plea of conscience when urged as an excuse for not of- 
fering atonement for our crime, while we continue to profit by its 
fruits, is no better than self-deceit and hypocrisy. If Protestants urge 
that they cannot allow Catholics to have any voice in the government, 
why did they bring a Catholic people into political connexion with 
themselves 1 If they so dread the infection of Catholic opinions, why 
do they oblige Catholics to live and breathe in the same society 
with themselves ? But this they have chosen to do ;' and if their 
health be endangered, they have only themselves to thank for it 

In saying this, it will not be supposed that I am gravely arguing in 
favour of a total separation between this country and Ireland. When 
I urge that those who refuse to do Ireland justice, and make conscience 
their plea for the refusal, are bound not to be conscientious only where 
it suits their own interests, but to make restitution in full if they scruple 
at coming to a fair compromise ; I mean to show the futility of their 
plea, and to insist that it is only a deceived or self-deceiving con- 
science which advances it. In fact, it is a plea which would dissolve 
the whole fabric of society throughout Europe ; and would make it im- 
possible for men of different religions to live together as fellow-citi- 
zens, if they mutually insisted upon their own exclusive supremacy. 
The connexion between this country and Ireland is not now to be torn 
asunder ; the injustice which we have done cannot now in that manner 
be rendered undone ; but it is our bounden duty to remedy its actual 
evil effects. What ought to have been done long since, should at least 
no longer be delayed ; we should hasten to remove all those marks of 
our original violence, which leave us still guilty till they are wiped 
away : wo should make it as impossible even to dream of a separation 
with Ireland, as to break up England itself into the original elements 
of its heptarchy. 

But it has been urged by Lord Bexley, that the Catholics of Ireland 
are not the Irish nation ; that we are united with the Protestants of 
Ireland, and that they, politically speaking, constitute Ireland. Thus 
k is that the language of municipial law, so often the mere organ of 
power, is quoted to give an imposing sanction to injustice. What are 
the Protestants of Ireland, but military colonies planted by the ooo- 


quering nation in a con<{bered province, who can only have a distinct 
existence so long as the evils of conquest are unatoned for, and the 
tenure is one of might and not of right. Such in the reign of Augus- 
tus were the colonies of Narbo, Vienna, and Lugdunum in Gaul ; of 
Corduba and Hispalis in Spain ; and whilst these alone possessed the 
privileges of citizenship, whilst these alone were regarded by the Ro- 
mans as enjoying legal existence, so long was the connexion with 
Gaul and Spain forced and insecure, so long were the massacres and 
spoliations of the first Caesar an enduring crime of the Roman govern- 
ment. But the Italian war had taught the Romans a memorable 
lesson ; and the statesmen and lawyers of Rome were not incapable 
of profiting by the experience of the past. Within sixty years after 
the death of Augustus, the rights of Roman citizens were bestowed on 
all the free inhabitants of Gaul, and from that period Gaul was truly 
united to the empire, her old language and her old customs were 
gradually forgotten, and the bonds which bound her to Italy could only 
be torn asunder by the general convulsion of the civilized world. To 
consider then the Protestants of Ireland as the Irish nation, is merely 
to perpetuate the injustice of our original conquest ; to say that although 
inferior in numbers, they possess a great superiority in property, is to 
keep alive the memory of those sweeping confiscations which transfer- 
red the soil of Ireland to the conquerors, and of those more atrocious 
laws which, down to the year 1778, forbade the Irish Catholic to be- 
come a purchaser of land in his own country. Who can wonder, that 
if we on our part still display the trophies of victory, the majority of 
the Irish people should cherish a bitter recollection of their defeat ? 
that if we, till within the last fifty years, so far abused the rights of 
conquest as to hinder the conquered from regaining by peaceful indus- 
try the property which they had lost, they should have remembered 
how they had lost it, and by what means alone they could expect to re- 
cover a share of it ? The stream of events cannot flow backward, 
nor is there any fear that the injustice of our conquest will be remov- 
ed by an opposite injustice : unless we obstinately refuse ourselves to 
obliterate its traces, and persist in treating Ireland as a conquered 
province, where our Protestant colonies alone are to enjoy the rights 
of citizens. 

It may be urged as a last plea for still calling upon Parliament to 
persevere in the iniquities of our ancestors, that exclusion from the 
full rights of citizenship is not directed against the Irish Catholics as 
Irishmen, but as Catholics ; and that the Catholics of England are in 
some respects subjected to still greater disqualifications. This also h 
one of those arguments which men are liable to advance, while they 


want the knowledge or the ability to connect th^ present state of things 
with the causes that produced it. That the majoritj of the Irish 
people are Catholics at this hour is almost demonstrably owing to the 
English conquest combined with the neglect of those measures which 
repair the evil of conquest. Had Ireland been left to herself, she 
would have experienced in all human probabilitj the same course of 
events with the other countries of the North of Europe. Her kings 
would have become impatient of the papal pretensions ; her aristocra- 
cy would have been jealous of the wealth and consequence of the 
Church ; her commons would have been alienated by the unworthy 
lives of the clergy; and with these predisposing causes to aid them, 
the doctrines of the reformers would have taken root as efiectually as 
they did in Scotland and in England. Or had conquest been followed 
by an effectual union ; had we known how to improve, and conciliate, 
and civilize, as well as we understood the arts of slaughter and con- 
fiscation, Ireland would have had one heart with England, and Con- 
naught and Munster would have opposed no greater obstacles to Pro- 
testantism than Cornwall and Cumberland ; it would have been 
merely the slowness of ignorance, and not the deep aversion of na- 
tional hatred. But now Ireland is Catholic because Protestantism was 
associated in her eyes with subjugation and oppression ; she clung tho 
more fondly to her superstitions because they were renounced and per- 
secuted by her enemy. And who can doubt but that the dread and 
hatred of Popery which prevailed in England during the seventeenth 
century were at least greatly aggravated by causes arising out of her 
political relations with Ireland. If there was one thing more than 
another which made Popery detestable, it was the Irish rebellion and 
massacre of 1642 : or at a later period, the support which Ireland 
gave to James the Second, and the Acts of James's Irish Parliament 
in 16^9. Now although religious animosity had a great share in the 
violences of both these periods ; yet it was so mixed up with feel- 
ings of national and political hatred, that they ought not to be regarded 
as the mere effects of Catholic bigotry, but as the atrocious vengeance 
of a barbarous people upon those who had conquered and held them 
in subjection. In all these cases, to remember only the wickedness 
of the retaliation, and to pass over the injustice which provoked it, is 
at once morally and politically blameable. Let us abhor as much as 
we will the individual actors in scenes of cruelty, but let us not think 
that their guilt can cancel ours ; or that because evil has been over- 
thrown by worse evil, that therefore we are justified in restoring and 
upholding it. 

Once again, it is urged by some that the disabilities imposed on the 


Catholics are no other than all governments maj enact in their dis- 
cretion upon particular classes of their subjects : and parallels are 
sought for in the law which disables clergymen from sitting in the 
House of Commons ; and in those which make the possession of a 
certain amount of income an indispensable c|ualification for a member 
of the legislature, or even for an elector in the county election. With 
respect to the privilegium against Home Tooke, for such in fact it was, 
which assumed the thin cloak of a general principle to cover its real 
motives of personal aversion and fear, it is difficult to conceive how 
one act of injustice can be a defence for another ; and the depriving the 
clergy of their rights as citizens, when their old rights as a distinct order 
in the State had been taken from them, was a measure worthy ct 
the suspicions and violence of the time at which it was affected. But 
to require in a legislator the possession of such wealth as ought fairly 
to place him above any corrupt temptation, is allowed by the highest 
authorities in political science to be a provision for the common bene- 
fit ; and it is a principle equally just and beneficial, however particular 
circumstances may sometimes require it to be modified, that he who 
has no interest in the maintenance of society, should have no voice in 
the choice of those who are to defend and govern it. But even ad- 
mitting that it were otherwise, yet there is one great distinction be- 
tween these laws of disqualification, and those which afifect the 
Catholics of Ireland. The clergy form one particular profession ; the 
poor form one particular class in society ; but they are intermingled 
locally as well as politically with other professions and other classes ; 
so that it is impossible that either should constitute a distinct society 
by themselves. They are essentially parts of a whole ; and as such, 
submission is their duty ; and Government may lawfiilly, on* its own 
conscientious belief of its being for the general good, impose on them 
restrictions which they may consider injurious. And this same princi- 
ple applies also to the Catholics of England, whose claims certainly 
could not be urged with justice if they were likely to be dangerous to 
the Church establishment of England, that is, to the interests of the 
great majority of that society of which the Catholics are necessarily 
and naturally a part. It applies also, it may be observed, to very 
small portions of a national society, even though they may be locally 
distinct ; as, for instance, it were idle for the inhabitants of one single 
county, united as they are by laws, language, customs, and habits of 
living, to the rest of the nation, to consider themselves as capable of 
forming a distinct national society. Thus when Johnson,* in order to 

* In his Pamphlet, entitled ** Taxation no Tyranny," vol. viil of his Works, 8vo. 
edit 1806. 


ridiculo the pretensions of the American Congress, imagines a congre«9 
of Cornishmen assembled at Truro to hold a similar language, and 
then adds, that he knows no argument used by the Americans which 
may not with greater justice be urged by the Cornishmen, he forgets 
the infinitely different ratio which America and Cornwall bear towards 
Great Britain : and that tlistance, resources, and population fitted the 
former as decidedly for a separate social existence, as its close local 
connection, and its comparative insignificance in power and numbers, 
marked the latter as a natural part of the civil society of Britain. 
Now the Catholics of Ireland are not a single profession, like the 
clergy ; nor a single class of society, like the poor ; on the contrary, 
they comprehend all the dififerent elements of a nation; nobility, 
wealth, intelligence, numbers, and variety of professions and occupa- 
tions. Nor again, are they so locally mixed up with the mass of 
British society, as to form only a necessary part of it, incapable of a 
separate existence. On the contrary. Nature herself has marked out 
their boundaries with a decided hand; and Ireland is, geographi- 
cally speaking, a world by itself. Further, they are not so insignifi- 
cant a portion of the society of the empire, as to bo bound under all 
circumstances to submit to the will of the majority, because their sepa- 
ration could not be contemplated without ridicule. Many states in 
Europe far inferior to Ireland in population and resources, and far less 
favourably situated, have enjoyed, and still enjoy, a happy and glorious 
independence. If by a persevering refusal to treat the Irish as citizens, 
we urge them hereafter to consider themselves as foreigners, they may 
be called rebels in England during the continuance of the struggle, 
but as soon as it is over the name of rebellion will bo exchanged for 
that of war, and even municipal law will allow of our then giving it 
a title which universal law and the voice of all other nations had con- 
ferred on it from the very beginning. 

Nav, oven were we to extend the principle of non-resistence to 
societies as well as to individuals ; if we hold that war is under all 
circumstances unlawful, and that the nation which repels injury by 
force is over to be condemned, still this cannot lessen the guilt of those 
who ofler injury, or those who make the injustice of the government 
their own by tlieir loud petitions to persevere in it. Naboth certainly 
would have boon guilty of rebellion, had he attempted as an individual 
to maintain his vineyard against Ahab by force ; but would this have 
altered the wickedness of the king*s act in seizing it, or of those coun- 
sellors who had instigated him to the crime ? If it be sinful even to 
resist evil, how much more sinful is it to do evil ? But some are not 
ashamed to argue, that although the present state of things in Ireland 


is tbe result of injustice^ yet that it is not injustice now to maintain 
it ; that our fathers are answerable for the sin, and that we maj fiiiriy 
reap the profit of it. I know not a more striking proof of the lamenta- 
ble ignorance in which many good men lire as to all political duties, 
than that any one calling- himself a Christian should use such an ar- 
gument as this. Apply it to private life, and he who would advance 
it is not an erroneous reasoner, but deficient in common honesty ; ** non 
verbis et disputatione philosophorum sed vinculis et carcere fatigan- 
dns." The Catholic Louis, King of France, had other notions of 
Christian duty than these. He, not contented with the scrupulous justice 
of his own Christian life, " appointed commissaries to inquire what 
possessions had been unjustly annexed to the Royal domain during the 
two last reigns. These were restored to the proprietors, or, where 
length of time had made it difificult to ascertain the claimant, their 
value was distributed among the poor."* This was the real tender- 
ness of an enlightened conscience ; this was a true horror of the 
contamination of that worst idolatry, unrighteous gain. But to make 
no attempts to compensate for our fathers' injustice, or to think that 
sin can ever die to those who retain the benefit of it without repairing 
the evil which it occasioned, is indeed to ^' allow the deeds of our 
fathers," and to expose ourselves to the heavy judgment denounced 
against those who repent not of their fathers' crimes. 

As a last resource we are opposed by the argument, " that men have 
no right to govern themselves, but only to be kindly and justly treated 
by their governors. That therefore the Irish Catholics may indeed 
claim exemption from persecution and tyranny, but that they have no 
right to a voice in the Legislature, or to exercise the highest functions 
of free citizens, the administration of the whole state." Now if men, 
that is, if societies of men, for we are not speaking of individuals, have 
not a right to govern themselves, who has the right to govern them ? 
Government is either a matter of agreement, as when the proprietors 
in a joint stock company depute some of their body to manage the con- 
cerns of the whole ; or, it arises out of a natural superiority, either tem- 
porary, as that of men over boys and children, or perpetual, as that ot 
men over beasts. Now it is very true that beasts have no right to go- 
vern themselves, but only to be kindly and justly governed ; for men 
have a natural superiority over them, which is perpetual and unalter- 
able ; and God has accordingly declared his will, that to men they 
should bo subject. It is true also, that boys and children have no right 
to govern themselves while they remain boys and children, for there 

• HaUam's Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 43. 8to. edit. 


also is a natural superiority in their parents and elders over them ; and 
God has accprdingly in this case also sanctioned this authority by his 
express law. But as soon as boys arrive at manhood, the supe- 
riority of nature on the part of the parent expires : then therefore the 
child has a right to govern himself, and this the law of Christian coun- 
tries, justly, as I conceive, interpreting the divine law, has agreed to 
acknowledge. A child then has no right to govern himself while he is 
a child, but he has a right so to be governed as shall qualify him for 
governing himself hereafter ; and what should we say of the guilt of 
that parent who should wilfully neglect his son's education in order to 
protract the period of his own authority ? Now according to the gene- 
ral belief of ancient times, such a natural superiority existed in some 
classes of men over the rest, and was derived from a supposed divine 
extraction : for the descendants of those deified men who were amongst 
the earliest objects of idolatry, were accounted themselves to be a race 
of demigods or heroes, and to be entitled to the exclusive possession of 
the ofHccs of king and priest ; of king, because as men were the natu- 
ral lords of the brute creation, so demigods were the natural rulers of 
men : of priest, because the gods would receive no stranger's services 
with the same satisfaction as those offered by their own descendants- 
These were the diorQ6g)eBg ^aadrieg of the heroic age of Greece, and a 
similar belief gave a sacred authority to the Bramins of India, the Lu- 
cumones of Etruria, the Patricians of Rome, and the hero race who ac- 
cording to the national traditions were the earliest sovereigns of Egypt 
and of Aztlan. It was the government of such kings that the old phi- 
losophers accounted the most natural and perfect of all governments ; 
because it was the government of a superior being, so far exalted 
above the nature of his subjects, that his single worth and fitness to 
govern surpassed the sum total of the virtues of the whole people be- 
sides. On similar principles the existence of slavery was defended ; 
some divisions of the human race were naturally fitted to command, 
and others to obey ; and the former, amongst whom the upholders of 
this doctrine took care to class themselves, were only acting agreeably 
to the order of nature when they made the latter their slaves. Still, 
however, it was a question whether this inferiority was accidental or 
perpetual ; for if it were the former, then emancipation was the right 
of the slaves as soon as they became fit for it, and the duty of the mas- 
ters was to prepare them in the mean time for exercising hereafter the 
power of self-government. But in all these cases the principle was 
just and intelligible, that a superiority of nature conferred a title to au- 
thority over beings of an inferior order ; and they who believed kings 
io be of superhuman extraction and to possess superhuman virtues 


jusdj maintained their divine rigbt to gorern mankind, and jostlj as- 
serted that men were lawfully subject to them, and could claim no more 
from them than thej were bound themselves to render to the brute cre- 
ation, that is, just and kind treatment, so far as it was compatible with 
an absolute right of dominion. When however the conclusions of one 
set of premises are appended to premises entirely opposite, the incon- 
gruity would be truly ludicrous, were not its consequences too mischie- 
vous to allow of laughter. It is among the most humiliating instances 
of human folly, that Christians, while holding as one of the first princi- 
ples of their religion the common descent of all mankind, their common 
sinful nature, and common need of being bom again in Christ, should 
adopt a conclusion which rested wholly on their supposed different ex- 
traction, and on the high purity and excellence of some particular races 
contrasted with the degraded state of others. To us who admit of no 
such differences it is a conclusion little better than monstrous ; and the 
very fact that no beings exist in the world who enjoy a natural supe- 
riority over malikind, and that no one race of mankind possesses, except 
from accidental causes, such a superiority over another, shows decisive- 
ly that God has given to men the right of self government, and that as 
no one race can claim dominion as its peculiar birthright, so all lawful 
power over them is derived solely from their own consent, and is a 
mere matter of arrangement for the general benefit. Mankind there- 
fore have a right to govern themselves, that is to say, society is the su- 
preme power on earth, and the ordinances of society, or the laws and 
the commands of magistrates who act in the name and for the welfare 
of the society, are binding upon all the individual members of it ; but 
neither has any one national society any authority to govern another, 
nor still less have magistrates who are but the ofRcers of society, any 
right to rule contrary to the will of that society, or to exercise any 
greater power than it may authorize. And if such magistrates, by the 
physical force of a body of men purposely kept distinct from the inte- 
rests and feelings of the community, exercise and maintain a despotic 
power over society, it is a state as monstrous as if wild beasts were to 
occupy any country to the exclusion of mankind ; and the social body 
would be as fully justified in delivering itself from the unnatural violence 
of one of these brute enemies as of the other. The Christian Scrip- 
tures indeed enjoin conscientious submission to government on the part 
of individuals, resting this duty on the divine authority vested in it, as 
the representative on earth of our supreme moral Governor. They 
strongly condemn the doctrines of the Fiflh Monarchy men, and of the 
ancient Jews, who held that the saints were not subject to any earthly 
society, especially when it consisted of heathens, because they had one 
only King in heaven. They discourage the notion so common amongst 


religious bigots, that there is something profane in political institutions 
with which the servants of God should not intermeddle. On the con- 
trary, the apostles teach that these political institutions are God's ap- 
pointed means of governing the world, and that he so highly regards 
them as to invest them with one of his own attributes, the dispensation 
of good to the well disposed, and of punishment to the evil doer. If 
they are perverted from fulfilling these purposes, they are faulty and re- 
quire amendment, and every servant of God should use his best endea- 
vours to restore them to their designed purity. But that they who had 
so perverted them should be allowed to profit by their own wrong, that 
they should in spite of nature transfer the principles of government ex- 
ercised over beings naturally inferior to the government of beings natu- 
rally equal ; and that this violation of the manifest laws of God's provi- 
dence, and obstruction of his declared will for the perfecting of human 
society, should defend itself by arguments grounded upon falsehood and 
idolatry, and then claim to be sanctioned by divine truth, affords alto- 
gether a melancholy instance of the art with which the great enemy of 
all goodness employs the preteit of respect for the Gospel, when he 
would most efFoctually prevent the Gospel from bringing forth its proper 

And now I would briefly recapitulate the proofs of my original posi- 
tion, that it is a direct Christian duty to grant the claims of the Roman 
Catholics, and a direct sin, however ignorantly committed, to endeavour 
to procure the rejection of them. We conquered Ireland unjustly, and 
have perpetuated the evils, and consequently the guilt, of our first con- 
quest. We retuse to admit the Irish nation into the pale of our civil 
society, whilst, by admitting into it those Protestant military colonies, 
by which we have from time to time garrisoned Ireland, we keep up 
a broad line of distinction between union and conquest, between the 
small minority whom we make eur fellow-citizens, and the majori- 
ty whom we treat as subjects. We plead the inconveniences to our- 
selves of a connection with Ireland on equal and just terms, while 
we eflected in the first instance, and still insist on maintaining a 
connexion on unequal and unjust terms. We talk of the sin of 
uniting ourselves with Papists, yet we force Papists to belong to us ; 
and wo plead the idolatry of the Catholics as a reason for not doing 
them justice, when our own injustice has been the cause of this idolatry 
still existing ; and had it not been for us, Ireland would in all human 
probability have been at this moment Protestant. We confound an entire 
national society with particular orders or professions of society, and sa- 
crifice the rights of one nation to the interests of another, because the 
interests of a part of a nation may lawfully be sacrificed to the para- 
mount rights of the whole. We attempt sometimes to justify our con* 

tBM mOMLAM Cf mOLIO GUUiJItf, 179 

duct bj an argument, which, if acted upon in private life, would cause 
a man to be banished from ail honest society ; namely, that we are not 
bound to repair an injustice done by others, even though we continue 
to reap the profits of it. We attempt at other times to defend it by 
transferring conclusions, legitimately drawn from premises which we 
acknowledge to be false, to the very contrary premises which we ac- 
knowledge to be true. And we individually, that is, the clergy, gentry, 
farmers, and shopkeepers of this country, make ourselves each separate- 
ly guilty of the injustice which we have committed as a nation, by call- 
ing upon our rulers t6 persevere in this wickedness, when they appear 
inclined to relieve us and our posterity from the curse which it must 
entail upon us, and to return at last to the path of duty. 

It is not therefore the advocates, but the enemies of the Catholics 
who are preferring state policy to their Christian duty ; it is not their 
advocates who would sacrifice the Protestant religion to the views of 
worldly expediency, but their adversaries, who would violate the plain 
duties of our common Christianity, rather than consent to the political 
evil of abandoning Ireland to herself, if their consciences will not per- 
mit them to treat it with justice. The plea of religion is wholly foreign 
to the question, except upon such grounds as would authorize direct 
persecution. If the believers in a true religion claim a title to restrain 
those who are in error from the enjoyment of their natural rights, in 
order to have a greater chance of converting them to the truth ; then 
also they may pretend to persecute them directly with the same object, 
and there is no doubt that a thorough persecution M'ill generally root 
out the doctrines against which it is directed. Or if they claim a natu- 
ral superiority on account of the truth of their religion, so that they are 
fitted to govern unbelievers or heretics, on the same principles that men 
govern children, this is a pretension far less reasonable than if we 
were to claim dominion over those- nations whose constitutions were 
unfavorable to the welfare of their people, or, whose moral character 
we might judge to be inferior to our own. What human power can 
pronounce authoritatively upon the truth of a religion, when every 
nation will with equal zeal maintain the truth of its own ? Or does 
Christ authorize his servants *as such to assume the office of judg- 
ing the world, until the day when he shall himself appear to pronounce 
the judgment ? 

Hitherto then I have argued the Question solely on the ground of 
justice : and have shown, that a third part nearly of the inhabitants of 
the whole empire, containing in themselves all the different elements of 
a nation, locally distinct, differing in race, and a large part of them in 
language also, from the people of Great Britain, cannot be considered 


as necessarily forming only a part of our national society, on whom we 
as the majority may impose what rules we will, while they have no 
other duty but submission. Wc are bound either to treat them fairly, 
or not to meddle with them at all ; and if our constitution must be 
altered before they can be members of it, we are bound to alter it ; as 
we, by making them subjects unjustly, contracted voluntarily the obli- 
gation to make them citizens ; or else wo are labouring at this hour 
under the guilt of our ancestors' usurpations. But although this would 
be the plain path of duty under any circumstances, yet it would be a 
most painful alternative, had we to choose between the overthrow of 
our religious institutions, and the dismemberment of the empire. No 
national evil that did not involve national sin could be greater in my 
judgment than the destruction of our Protestant Church Establishment. 
That union of Church and State, which so many good men lament and 
some condemn, appears to me to be far too powerful a means of diffus- 
ing the blessings of Christianity to be lightly broken asunder ; and 
although I earnestly desire to see the actual abuses of that union reme- 
died, yet even now the good which it is daily working is such as to 
make every sincere Christian regard at least with anxiety the prospect 
of its dissolution. I have said thus much, because the advocates of the 
Catholic claims are often accused of indifference to the safety of our 
own Establishment. With whatever justice this may bo imputed to 
some of their number, I beg in my own case to protest against the 
charge as wholly groundless and untrue. I think certainly, that even 
the existence of our Establishment would be too dearly purchased, if it 
could only be upheld by injustice ; I should be unwilling to do evil that 
good might come ; to call upon Satan to cast out Satan. But our Pro- 
testant Church is one of the greatest blessings with which England 
has been favoured ; and may it exist secure from every enemy under 
the care of its divine Head, and trusting in its lawful arms, the truth of 
its doctrines, and the holiness of its members ! 

With this feeling, not less sincere than theirs who express most 
loudly their fears for its actual safety, it is to me a matter of deep joy, 
that the very course which justice calls on us to follow, should be also 
that which is most likely to ensure the safety of the Protestant Church, 
and to extend the influence of its doctrines : and that the very act which 
does justice to Ireland, holds out also the fairest promise of her moral 
and spiritual improvement. So universally true is our Lord's declara- 
tion, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all 
other things shall be added unto us ; if we do our duty without fear of 
the consequences, we shall most surely gain those advantages, which 
had they tempted us to flinch from our duty we should for ever ha^e 


Now at the commencement of this argument I am willing to take the 
picture of Ireland and the Irish Catholics from those who think most 
unfayourablj of them. I am willing to suppose that the Irish race are 
deeply tainted with barbarism ; that they know little of obedience to 
law ; that they are the slaves of passion and feeling, and by conse- 
quence deficient in the highest qualification of human nature, self-deny- 
ing virtue founded upon a high-principled sense of duty to God and 
man. I would allow also, that in no part of Europe does the Roman 
Catholic religion exist in a more aggravated form ; nowhere are its 
superstitions more gross, or its bigotry more ferocious ; nowhere is it 
a more fearful corruption of Christ's Gospel. But with this unpromis- 
ing race and with this dreadful religion we have chosen to connect our- 
selves; and we have thus deprived ourselves of the right to regard 
them with mere disgust and abhorrence ; we must endeavour to better 
them, and the more so as the virulence of the evil is in a great degree 
to be attributed to our own neglect or absolute ill treatment. Now 
how are they to be bettered, or can they not be bettered at all ? They 
can be bettered, for the Roman Catholic religion wears so difierent an 
aspect in different countries, that it may evidently be influenced by ex- 
ternal causes: and they who believe in the common origin of all man- 
kind, must conclude that all important moral differences, between one 
race and another, may be gradually removed as they have been created ; 
and that as unfavourable circumstances made them differ, so a happier 
system and better institutions may in time restore their original equality. 
Now a religion may be externally influenced either by forcible or by 
gentle measures ; by persecution, or by persuasion and example. I 
will not insult any of my readers by enlarging on the utter wickedness 
of the first of these means ; but will at once proceed to consider those 
others which we may and ought to use. If we wish to influence any 
one by our arguments or by our practice, should we be most likely to 
succeed if previously he regarded us with suspicion and ill will, or if 
he were living on friendly terms with us ? The question may seem too 
simple to be seriously asked ; and yet there are some who believe that 
Protestantism is less likely to win its way among the Irish Catholics, 
when being treated justly and kindly they will regard its professors as 
countrymen and friends, than it is at this moment, when it is looked 
upon as the badge of an enemy, and when its name is indissolubly 
associated with hostility and oppression. But let us see what I mean 
by saying that Protestantism will win its way in Ireland if the claims 
of the Catholics are granted. There will not be many direct conver- 
sions ; not many who will say in so many words that they abjure the 
errors of popery, and go over to the Protestant Church : there will be 


very little of this on either side, for there are stronger feelings in men's 
minds opposed to a professed change of religion than any that can be 
brought in favour of it. The nominal conversion of the heathen world 
to Christianity is a misleading example : for heathenism was not a 
matter of conscience with most of its votaries, and wanted many of the 
strongest links by which all forms of Christianity, and even Moham- 
medanism itself, are bound to the hearts and minds of their respective 
professors. Thus in modern Europe, wherever Catholics and Pro- 
testants have been mixed largely together, as in Germany, France, 
and Switzerland, neither religion has nominally gained much over the 
other ; and in those cantons of Switzerland in particular which are 
divided between Catholics and Protestants, the Catholic parishes have 
in general continued to bo Catholic, and the Protestant to be Protestant, 
without the limits of either faith having been enlarged by proselytism. 
In fact, if men of different religions are to live together in peace, they 
must abstain from a direct interference with each other's tenets ; just 
as in marriages between two persons of different persuasions, an 
arrangement is commonly made which limits the influence of either 
parent over their common children, and determines that some shall be 
brought up in the opinions of their father, and others in those of their 
mother. But although direct renunciations of the Roman Catholic 
tenets are likely to bo few, yet the general approximation of those 
tenets to the faith of Protestants is likely to be very considerable. For 
this experience is our warrant ; inasmuch as the Roman Catholic reli- 
gion exists in its most corrupted form in those countries where there 
are either no Protestants, as in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, or where 
from political animosities Protestants arc regarded with suspicion and 
abhorrence, as in Ireland. On the contrary, where Protestants are 
numerous, and are living on friendly terms with Catholics, there the 
Catholic religion exists in a very improved state, and its worst abuses 
are practically done away with. I have now before me two Cate- 
chisms : the one a Spanish one, printed at Valladolid, apparently during 
the war with Napoleon, but the date of the year is not given ; the other 
printed at Rheims in 1822, and circulated by the orders of the Arch- 
bishop of Kheims, for the use of his diocese. Much certainly that is 
offensive to a Protestant ear may bo found even in the latter ; yet the 
difference in tone between it and the Spanish Catechism is very re- 
markable ; and sufficiently shows that the Roman Catholic religion is 
not always practically one and the same, although its members, if 
pressed f»n the point by Protestants, might think themselves bound to 
assert its unchangeableness. For example, in the Spanish Catechism, 
aflcr the catechumen has expounded the several Articles of the Apos- 


ties' Creed, the catecbist proceeds to ask, whether there are anj other 
things which he believes ? To which the answer is given,* " Yes, 
father ; every thing contained in the Holy Scriptures, and every thing 
revealed by God to his Church." "And what things are these?" 
proceeds the catecbist. " That," replies the catechumen, " you should 
not ask of me, who am ignorant. There are Doctors in our holy 
Mother Church, who will know bow to answer it." " You say well," 
resumes the catecbist, " that it becomes the Doctors of the Church and 
not such as you to give an account of the extent of all the points of 
faith. It is enough for you to give an account of the Articles as 
contained in the Creed." And again in another place, the catechumen, 
after enumerating the several means of grace, mentions as the last and 
most powerfulff " the making choice of a wise, virtuous, and prudent 
confessor, and obeying him in every thing." "You say well," rejoins 
the catecbist, *' and remember to act accordingly ; for such a confessor 
will be like an angel, who will guide you by proposing to you these 
and other means of grace," <kc. Now to the first of these extracts 
there is nothing at all similar in the French Catechism ; and with 
regard to the confessor, all that is said is a practical rule at the end of 
the Article on Confession, recommending every one to choose a good 
confessor, who may question them, instruct them in their duties, and 
be a check on them ; and advising them " to listen to his counsels, and 
follow them with docility," Again, in the French Catechism the na- 
ture of the honour paid to the Virgin Mary and the Saints is carefully 
defined ; and it is expressly said, that wo may not worship either the 
Virgin, or the Saints and Angels, but God alone : nor may we pray to 
them to give us grace, but to pray for it to God in our behalf; and that 
the cross and the images of the Saints are not to be respected in them- 
selves ; for they have in them no divinity and no virtue ; Catholics 
address to them no prayers, and put no trust in them ; but they may 
be honoured for the sake of those whom they represent to us. But in 

* Si, Padre, todo lo quo esUi en la Sagrada Escritura, y quanto Dios tiene reyelado 
i sa I^Iesia. P. Qud cosaa son estas 7 R. Eso no me lo pregunteis d mi, que soy 
ignorante: Doctorcs tienc la santa Madrc Iglesia, que lo sabrdn responder. M. Biea 
decis, qud a los Doctores convienc, y no d vosotros, dar cucnta por extcnso de las 
coeas dc la F6 : d vosotros bdstaos darla de los Articuloa como Be conticnen en el 

t Por decir uno quo abraza muchoe, el elcgir un conibflor adbio, virtuoso, y piti- 
dente, y sujctarse a el on todo. M. Bicn deci& Hacedlo puce vosotrog aat, poet 
egto OB tevfk como un Angel, que os guidrd, proponicndo-os estos y otros rocdios, &o. 

I have inserted the original words of these passages, because, as my knowledge of 
Spanish is exceedingly slight, I may possibly have committed some mistakes in my 
ttvuulation of them ; although I believe I have not mistaken the exact sense. 


the Spanish Catechism there are none of these explanations, and it is 
simply said that we should honour the images of the Virgin, and of the 
Saints, and pray to the Angels and Saints, as to our mediators. Finally, 
in the French Catechism there is at the end of every Article a list of 
passages from the Scripture bearing on the subject of the Article, which 
can only be inserted in order to encourage the study of very large parts 
of the Scripture at least, if it docs not imply the recommendation of the 
whole volume. There is not a word in the Spanish Catechism, on the 
other hand, which refers the reader to the Bible, or would lead him to 
consider the study of the Scriptures as useful to him. And this brings 
me to a difference in the Roman Catholic religion as it exists in France, 
Germany, and the Netherlands, on the one hand, and in Italy on the 
other, of which every one who has travelled through these countries 
may speak from his own knowledge. In the three former, crucifixes 
by the road side are sufficiently common ; but images of the Virgin 
and the Saints are comparatively rare ; while in Italy these last are 
more frequent than the crucifix. Again, most of the modern paintings 
in the French Churches are taken from Scriptural subjects : and what 
is perhaps even more remarkable, amongst a collection of thirty or 
forty coloured prints of the cheapest description which I looked over in 
a shop at Cologne in June last, there was not one relating to any 
legend of the Saints or the Virgin, but the subjects of all were taken 
from the New Testament. Whereas at Rome and in its neighbour- 
hood the pictures and legends of the Saints are far more numerous on 
the walls of the Churches, by the road sides, in shops, and in houses, 
than pictures relating to our Lord, or that are taken from the Old or 
New Testament. Now it may be very true that a French or German 
priest, if pressed by a Protestant, would declare that the faith of his 
Church was one and unchangeable, and that the Catholics of Italy held 
the same doctrines as himself: but still the practical effect is infinitely 
different, if the parts of these doctrines which are prominently brought 
forward be in one country the main truths of Christianity which Catho- 
lies hold in common with Protestants, and in another their own pecu- 
liar corruptions of it. And this more Christian aspect of the Roman 
Catholic faith exists in every country where it has been much in con- 
tact with Protestantism, except in Ireland; while there, on the con- 
trary, it presents itself in its very worst form. This is in itself a phe- 
nomenon ; and this alone, if duly considered, should induce every man 
who is anxious for the religious improvement of his countrymen to pro- 
mote the admission of the Irish Catholics to their civil rights. Where- 
ever Catholics and Protestants have lived together on a friendly footingi 
the influence of Protestantism has been insensibly operating, and has 


practkallj improved the character of Catholicism; but where ihev 
have lived together as a degraded and a persecuting caste ; while^ 
one has groaned under a system of exclusion, and the other exulted ia 
the enjoyment of its ascendancy, there has been no room for the exer. 
cise of an J beneficial influence; men's religion has become their partj 
also ; and thus its most distinctive peculiarities have been rather obsti. 
natcly maintained than softened or abandoned. Yet the Irish Pro- 
testant Church is wealthy and learned ; and has numbered amongst its 
ministers some of the most apostolical men who have ever borne the 
Christian name. Under any other circumstances their talents and their 
virtues, and the political influ'^nce of their Church, might have attracted 
the respect and love of the Catholics, might have drawn them into a 
cordial union in the woiics of charity and public utility, and might in 
time have induced them to tolerate, if not, like the Catholics of Get- 
many, to encourage, the circulation of the Scriptures amongst their peo- 
ple. But in Ireland the system of ascendancy has poisoned every 
thing ; and while the Catholic regarded the Protestant as an oppressor, 
and the Protestant looked upon the Catholic as meditating insurrection, 
both were repelled from all approaches to union ; and each was for- 
ward to hurl upon the other the names of heretic and idolater. 

Nor should it be forgotten, that if the influence of Protestantism has 
improved the Catholic religion in Germany, it might be expected, if it 
were once disentangled from its encumbering armour of ascendancy, to 
produce a much stronger cflect in Ireland. That which the Puritans 
charged upon the Church of England as its crime, has always recom- 
mended it to the Catholics as the least oflensive of the Protestant 
Churches ; I mean its form of Church government, its Lituigy, and its 
ceremonies. Hitherto the objects of our Reformers, in avoiding all 
needless departure from the doctrines and discipline of the Church of 
Rome, have not been fully answered ; their policy has perhaps dis- 
gusted more Protestants than it has conciliated Catholics. I do not 
mean therefore to urge that it was blameable ; but it will be a great 
reproach to ourselves i£, afler having sufiered so long from its ill 
efiects, as exemplified in our bitter dissensions with the Puritans, we 
do not now avail ourselves of the opportunity which Ireland aflbrds, to 
realize some of its intended benefits. A Puritan clergy in Ireland, or 
a clergy at all partaking of the spirit of Puritanism, woukl be an evil 
which the Government should carefully watch over, and to the utmost 
of its power vigorously prevent There should be no furious commen- 
taries on the Apocalypse, no raving about the sin of tolerating idohUen. 
The deep folly of such conduct can hardly be an excuse for its utter 
uncharitableness, and the incalculable mischief of its coiisequences. 
Our language to the Roman Catholics should be that of St. Pkul to the 


186 cHBimAK Dimr ov ooNCXDnro 

Jews : ^ BelieTest thou the Prophets 1 I know that thoo believesL'' 
** After the waj that jou caD heresj, so worship we the God (rf* our 
fiUhers, believing none other things than those which the Prophets and 
Moses did say should come." •*You have a zeal of God, M not 
according to knowledge." You are our brethren, "yours are the 
fiuhers," and " if concerning the Gospel jou are at all our enemies, 
jet are jou beloved for the fathers* sake," even those same fathers,* 
who in their heroic zeal for Christ's sake became the fathers of this 
rerj nation in Christ, and '* in Christ Jesus have begotten us through 
the Gospel." And ifthej receive our charitj with unkindncss, against 
all example ; if our Church after all shall produce less efiect upon 
them than has been wrought bj other Protestant communions, whose 
difibrences with them are more universal, we shall then at least be 
entitled to saj, what at present would be an impious mockcrj, ** Your 
blood be upon jour own heads, wo are clean." We have at last pre- 
sented truth to JOU fiiirlj, not as jour oppressors and persecutors, from 
whose hands even truth herself must bo received with suspicion, but as 
jour countrjmen and brethren, not pretending to have dominion over 
jour bodies, but if it might be, willing to deliver jour minds from 
error, and to be helpers of jour joj. If jou reject it now, jou reject 
not us, but the truth itself: jour fall will be jour own fault, and we 
shall be no more guiltj of having thrown a stumbling-block in jour 
waj, bj uniting truth of religious profession with the practice of iniquitj 
and oppression. 

The answer to all this is the mere repetition of the assertion, **that 
poperj is unchanged and unchangeaUe." It is in vain that we appeal 
to fiu^ts, and shew that it is not unchanged in practice ; that in some 
countries it is practicallj Christianitj mixed with some errors, while in 
others it is practicallj idolatrj and superstition bearing the name of 
Christianitj : that the German Catholics who circulate the Scriptures 
are not exactlj the same sort of persons as the Italian Catholics who 
earefullj proscribe them : that the Catholic Eangs of Saxonj, who 
being absolute Sovereigns of a Protestant people have left the Protes- 
tant Church Establishment in Saxonj uninjured and unmolested for a 
hundred jears ; and the reigning monarch in particular, who bj a re- 
cent law will allow no convert from Protestantism to be received into 
the Catholic Church till after an interval of some months after his de- 
claring his change, or without producing a certificate from his Protes- 
tant minister that he had tried without efiect to shake his conviction ; 
that these Catholic princes do not exactlj resemble that picture of a 
persecuting bigot, which wo from the single example of James the 

* Pope GregocyMid AvffusliM. 


religious bigots, that there is something profane in political institutions 
with which the servants of God should not intermeddle. On the con- 
trary, the apostles teach that these political institutions are God's ap- 
pointed means of governing the world, and that he so highly regards 
them as to invest them with one of his own attributes, the dispensation 
of good to the well disposed, and of punishment to the evil doer. If 
they are perverted from fulfilling these purposes, they are faulty and re- 
quire amendment, and every servant of God should use his best endea- 
vours to restore them to their designed purity. But that they who had 
so perverted them should be allowed to proflt by their own wrong, that 
they should in spite of nature transfer the principles of government ex- 
ercised over beings naturally inferior to the government of beings natu- 
rally equal ; and that this violation of the manifest laws of God's provi- 
dence, and obstruction of his declared will for the perfecting of human 
society, should defend itself by arguments grounded upon falsehood and 
idolatry, and then claim to be sanctioned by divine truth, affords alto- 
gether a melancholy instance of the art with which the great enemy of 
all goodness employs the pretext of respect for the Gospel, when he 
would most efiectually prevent the Gospel from bringing forth its proper 

And now I would briefly recapitulate the proofs of my original posi- 
tion, that it is a direct Christian duty to grant the claims of the Roman 
Catholics, and a direct sin, however ignorantly committed, to endeavour 
to procure the rejection of them. We conquered Ireland unjustly, and 
have perpetuated the evils, and consequently the guilt, of our first con- 
quest. We refuse to admit the Irish nation into the pale of our civil 
society, whilst, by admitting into it those Protestant military colonies* 
by which we have from time to time garrisoned Ireland, we keep up 
a broad line of distinction between union and conquest, between the 
small minority whom wo make eur fellow-citizens, and the majori- 
ty whom we treat as subjects. We plead the inconveniences to our- 
selves of a connection with Ireland on equal and just terms, while 
we eflected in the first instance, and still insist on maintaining a 
connexion on unequal and unjust terms. We talk of the sin of 
uniting ourselves with Papists, yet we force Papists to belong to us ; 
and we plead the idolatry of the Catholics as a reason for not doing 
them justice, when our own injustice has been the cause of this idolatry 
still existing ; and had it not been for us, Ireland would in all human 
probability have been at this moment Protestant. We confound an entire 
national society >vith particular orders or professions of society, and sa- 
crifice the rights of one nation to the interests of another, because the 
interests of a part of a nation may lawfully be sacrificed to the panu 
mount rights of the whole. We attempt somelimet to justify our coa* 


duct by an argomeiit, which, if acted upon in private life, would cauae 
a man to be banished from all honest society ; namely, that we are not 
bound to repair an injustice done by others, even though we continue 
to reap the profits of it We attempt at other times to defend it by 
transferring conclusions, legitimately drawn from premises which we 
acknowledge to be false, to the very contrary premises which we ac- 
knowledge to be true. And we individually, that is, the clergy, gentry, 
farmers, and shopkeepers of this country, make ourselves each separate- 
ly guilty of the injustice which we have committed as a nation, by call- 
ing upon our rulers t6 persevere in this wickedness, when they appear 
inclined to relieve us and our posterity from the curse which it must 
entail upon us, and to return at last to the path of duty. 

It is not therefore the advocates, but the enemies of the Catholics 
who are preferring state policy to their Christian duty ; it is not their 
advocates who would sacrifice the Protestant religion to the views of 
worldly expediency, but their adversaries, who would violate the plain 
duties of our common Christianity, rather than consent to the political 
evil of abandoning Ireland to herself, if their consciences will not per- 
mit them to treat it with justice. The plea of religion is wholly foreign 
to the question, except upon such grounds as would authorize direct 
persecution. If the believers in a true religion claim a title to restrain 
those who are in error from the enjoyment of their natural rights, in 
order to have a greater chance of converting them to the truth ; then 
also they may pretend to persecute them directly with the same object, 
and there is no doubt that a thorough persecution will generally root 
out the doctrines against which it is directed. Or if they claim a natu- 
ral superiority on account of the truth of their religion, so that they are 
fitted to govern unbelievers or heretics, on the same principles that men 
govern children, this is a pretension far less reasonable than if we 
were to claim dominion over those- nations whose constitutions were 
unfavorable to the welfare of their people, or, whose moral character 
we might judge to be inferior to our own. What human power can 
pronounce authoritatively upon the truth of a religion, when every 
nation will with equal zeal maintain the truth of its own 1 Or does 
Christ authorize his servants 'as such to assume the ofifice of judg- 
ing the world, until the day when he shall himself appear to pronounce 
the judgment ? 

Hitherto then I have argued the Question solely on the ground of 
justice : and have shown, that a third part nearly of the inhabitants of 
the whole empire, containing in themselves all the difiTerent elements of 
a nation, locally distinct, differing in race, and a large part of them in 
language also, from the people of Great Britain, cannot be considered 

180 CHSI8TIAN duty: of CONCBDDrO 

as necessarily forming onlj a part of our national society, on whom we 
as the majority may impose what rules we will, while they have no 
other duty but submission. We are bound either to treat them fairly, 
or not to meddle with them at all ; and if our constitution must be 
altered before they can be members of it, we are bound to alter it ; as 
we, by making them subjects unjustly, contracted voluntarily the obli- 
gation to make them citizens ; or else we arc labouring at this hour 
under the guilt of our ancestors' usurpations. But although this would 
be the plain path of duty under any circumstances, yet it would be a 
most painful alternative, had we to choose between the overthrow of 
our religious institutions, and the dismemberment of the empire. No 
national evil that did not involve national sin could be greater in my 
judgment than the destruction of our Protestant Church Establishment. 
That union of Church and State, which so many good men lament and 
some condemn, appears to me to be far too powerful a means of diffus- 
ing the blessings of Christianity to be lightly broken asunder ; and 
although I earnestly desire to see the actual abuses of that union reme- 
died, yet even now the good which it is daily working is such as to 
make every sincere Christian regard at least with anxiety the prospect 
of its dissolution. I have said thus much, because the advocates of the 
Catholic claims are often accused of indifference to the safety of our 
own Establishment. With whatever justice this may be imputed to 
some of their number, I beg in my own case to protest against the 
charge as wholly groundless and untrue. I think certainly, that even 
the existence of our Establishment would be too dearly purchased, if it 
could only be upheld by injustice ; I should be unwilling to do evil that 
good might come ; to call upon Satan to cast out Satan. But our Pro- 
testant Church is one of the greatest blessings with which England 
has been favoured ; and may it exist secure from every enemy under 
the care of its divine Head, and trusting in its lawful arms, the truth of 
its doctrines, and the holiness of its members! 

With this feeling, not less sincere than theirs who express most 
loudly their fears for its actual safety, it is to me a matter of deep joy, 
that the very course which justice calls on us to follow, should be also 
that which is most likely to ensure the 'safety of the Protestant Church, 
and to extend the influence of its doctrines : and that the very act which 
does justice to Ireland, holds out also the fairest promise of her moral 
and spiritual improvement. So universally true is our Lord's declara- 
tion, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all 
other things shall be added unto us ; if wo do our duty without fear of 
the consequences, we shall most surely gain those advantages, which 
had they tempted us to flinch from our duty we should for ever have 


Now at the commencement of this argument I am willing to take the 
picture of Ireland and the Irish Catholics from those who think most 
unfavourably of them. I am willing to suppose that the Irish race are 
deeply tainted with barbarism ; that they know little of obedience to 
law ; that they are the slaves of passion and feeling, and by conse* 
quence deficient in the highest qualification of human nature, self-deny« 
ing virtue founded upon a high-principled sense of duty to God and 
man. I would allow also, that in no part of Europe does the Roman 
Catholic religion exist in a more aggravated form ; nowhere are its 
superstitions more gross, or its bigotry more ferocious ; nowhere is it 
a more fearful corruption of Christ's Gospel. But with this unpromis- 
ing race and with this dreadful religion we have chosen to connect our- 
selves; and we have thus deprived ourselves of the right to regard 
them with mere disgust and abhorrence ; we must endeavour to better 
them, and the more so as the virulence of the evil is in a great degree 
to be attributed to our own neglect or absolute ill treatment. Now 
how are they to be bettered, or can they not be bettered at all ? They 
can be bettered, for the Roman Catholic religion wears so different an 
aspect in difierent countries, that it may evidently be influenced by ex- 
ternal causes : and they who believe in the common origin of all man- 
kind, must conclude that all important moral differences, between one 
race and another, may be gradually removed as they have been created ; 
and that as unfavourable circumstances made them differ, so a happier 
system and better institutions may in time restore their original equality. 
Now a religion may be externally influenced either by forcible or by 
gentle measures ; by persecution, or by persuasion and example. I 
will not insult any of my readers by enlarging on the utter wickedness 
of the first of these means ; but will at once proceed to consider those 
others which we may and ought to use. If we wish to influence any 
one by our arguments or by our practice, should we be most likely to 
succeed if previously he regarded us with suspicion and ill will, or if 
he were living on friendly terms with us ? The question may seem too 
simple to be seriously asked ; and yet there are some who believe that 
Protestantism is less likely to win its way among the Irish Catholics, 
when being treated justly and kindly they will regard its professors as 
countrymen and friends, than it is at this moment, when it is looked 
upon as the badge of an enemy, and when its name is indissolubly 
associated with hostility and oppression. But let us see what I mean 
by saying that Protestantism will win its way in Ireland if the claims 
of the Catholics are granted. There will not be many direct conver- 
sions ; not many who will say in so many words that they abjure the 
errors of popery, and go over to the Protestant Church : there will be 

180 CHSI8TIAN duty: of COIYCBDDrO 

as necessarily forming only a part of our national society, on whom we 
as the majority may impose what rules we will, while they have no 
other duty but submission. We are bound either to treat them fairly, 
or not to meddle with them at all ; and if our constitution must be 
altered before they can be members of it, we are bound to alter it ; as 
we, by making them subjects unjustly, contracted voluntarily the obli. 
gation to make them citizens ; or else we arc labouring at this hour 
under the guilt of our ancestors' usurpations. But although this would 
be the plain path of duty under any circumstances, yet it would be a 
most painful alternative, had we to choose between the overthrow of 
our religious institutions, and the dismemberment of the empire. No 
national evil that did not involve national sin could be greater in my 
judgment than the destruction of our Protestant Church Establishment. 
That union of Church and State, which so many good men lament and 
some condemn, appears to me to be far too powerful a means of diffus- 
ing the blessings of Christianity to be lightly broken asunder ; and 
although I earnestly desire to see the actual abuses of that union reme- 
died, yet even now the good which it is daily working is such as to 
make every sincere Christian regard at least with anxiety the prospect 
of its dissolution. I have said thus much, because the advocates of the 
Catholic claims are often accused of indifierence to the safety of our 
own Establishment. With whatever justice this may be imputed to 
some of their number, I beg in my own case to protest against the 
charge as wholly groundless and untrue. I think certainly, that even 
the existence of our Establishment would be too dearly purchased, if it 
could only be upheld by injustice ; I should be unwilling to do evil that 
good might come ; to call upon Satan to cast out Satan. But our Pro. 
testant Church is one of the greatest blessings with which England 
has been favoured ; and may it exist secure from every enemy under 
the care of its divine Head, and trusting in its lawful arms, the truth of 
its doctrines, and the holiness of its members ! 

With this feeling, not less sincere than theirs who express most 
loudly their fears for its actual safety, it is to me a matter of deep joy, 
that the very course which justice calls on us to follow, should be also 
that which is most likely to ensure the safety of the Protestant Church, 
and to extend the influence of its doctrines : and that the very act which 
does justice to Ireland, holds out also the fairest promise of her moral 
and spiritual improvement. So universally true is our Lord's declara- 
tion, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all 
other things shall be added unto us ; if we do our duty without fear of 
the consequences, we shall most surely gain those advantages, which 
had they tempted us to flinch from our duty we should for ever have 


Now at the commencement of this argument I am willing to take the 
picture of Ireland and the Irish Catholics from those who think most 
unfavourablj of them. I am willing to suppose that the Irish race are 
deeply tainted with barbarism ; that they know little of obedience to 
law ; that they are the slaves of passion and feeling, and by conse* 
quence deficient in the highest qualification of human nature, self-deny- 
ing virtue founded upon a high -principled sense of duty to God and 
man. I would allow also, that in no part of Europe does the Roman 
Catholic religion exist in a more aggravated form ; nowhere are its 
superstitions more gross, or its bigotry more ferocious ; nowhere is it 
a more fearful corruption of Christ's Gospel. But with this unpromis- 
ing race and with this dreadful religion we have chosen to connect our- 
selves; and we have thus deprived ourselves of the right to regard 
them with mere disgust and abhorrence ; we must endeavour to better 
them, and the more so as the virulence of the evil is in a great degree 
to be attributed to our own neglect or absolute ill treatment. Now 
how are they to be bettered, or can they not be bettered at all ? They 
can be bettered, for the Roman Catholic religion wears so different an 
aspect in difierent countries, that it may evidently be influenced by ex- 
ternal causes : and they who believe in the common origin of all man- 
kind, must conclude that all important moral diflerences, between one 
race and another, may be gradually removed as they have been created ; 
and that as unfavourable circumstances made them difler, so a happier 
system and better institutions may in time restore their original equality. 
Now a religion may be externally influenced either by forcible or by 
gentle measures ; by persecution, or by persuasion and example. I 
will not insult any of my readers by enlarging on the utter wickedness 
of the first of these means; but will at once proceed to consider those 
others which we may and ought to use. If we wish to influence any 
one by our arguments or by our practice, should we be most likely to 
succeed if previously he regarded us with suspicion and ill will, or if 
he were living on friendly terms with us ? The question may seem too 
simple to be seriously asked ; and yet there are some who believe that 
Protestantism is less likely to win its way among the Irish Catholics, 
when being treated justly and kindly they will regard its professors as 
countrymen and friends, than it is at this moment, when it is looked 
upon as the badge of an enemy, and when its name is indissolubly 
associated with hostility and oppression. But let us see what I mean 
by saying that Protestantism will win its way in Ireland if the claims 
of the Catholics are granted. There will not be many direct conver- 
sions ; not many who will say in so many words that they abjure the 
errors of popery, and go over to the Protestant Church : there will be 



proceeded agamt according to the statutes. And if thej subscribe, 
inquiiy shall be made what care thej take for the instruction of the 
said children m the Catechism esUblished in the Book of Common 
Prayer. And all Ordinaries shall censure those whom thej find neg- 
ligent in the said instruction ; and if shall appear that the parents of 
the said children do forbid such schoolmasters to bring them up in the 
doctrine of the Church of England, they shall notwithstanding do their 
duty ; and if thereupon the said parents shall take away their children, 
the said schoolmasters shall forthwith give up their names unto the 
Bishop of the (fioccse, who shall take care to return them to the Jus- 
tices of Assize in manner and form aforesaid. And because some 
may cunningly riude this decree, by sending their children to be bred 
beyond the seas, therefore we ordain, that the churchwardens and 
other sworn ec^siastical oflTicers shall likewise make careful inquiry, 
and give in upon their oaths at all Visitations, the names of such recu- 
sants* children who are so sent beyond the seas to be bred there, or 
whom they probably suspect to be so sent : which names as aforesaid 
shall be given op to the Bishop, and from him returned to the Judges 
as aforesaid, tkat their parents, who so send them, may be punished 
according to law. Provided always, that this Canon shall not take 
away or derogate from any power or authority already given or estab- 
lished by any oilier Canon now in force. 

** And all the said complaints or certificates shall be presented up 
to the Judges ua their several circuits by the Bishop's Registrar, or 
some other of kis deputies immediately after the publishing of his 
Majesty's commission, or at the end of the charge, which shall then be 
given by the Judge. And this upon pain of suspension for three 

'* This sacred Synod doth earnestly entreat the said Reverend Jus- 
tices of Assize, to be careful in the execution of the said laws com- 
mitted to their tnist, as they will answer to God for the daily increase 
of this gross Idiid of superstition. And fiirther, we do also exhort 
all Judges, whedier ecclesiastical or temporal, upon the like account, 
that they would not admit in any of their courts any vexatious com- 
plaint, suit or svits, or presentments against any minister, churchwar- 
dens, questmen, sidemen, or other church-officers for the making of 
any such presentments. 

** And lastly, we enjoin that every Bishop shaU once in every year 
send into his Mi^esty's high court of Chancery, a significavit of the 
names and sunuunes of all such recusants who have stood excommuni- 
cated beyond the time limited by thq law, and shall desire that the writ 
De excommumaido capiendo might be at once sent out against them all 


ex ofew. And for the better execution of this decree, this preeem 
Synod doth most humbly beseech his most sacred Majesty, that the ofli. 
cers of the said high court of Chancery, whom it shall con<pem, may 
be commanded to sent out the aforesaid writ from time to time as is de. 
sired, for that it would much exhaust the particular estates of the Ordi. 
naries, to sue out several writs at their own charge. And that the like 
command also may be laid upon the Sherifis and their deputies, for the 
due and faithful execution of the said writs, as oflen as they shall be 
brought unto them. 

^' And to the end that this Canon may take the better and speedier 
effect, and not to be deluded or delayed ; we further decree and oidain, 
that no popish recusant, who shall persist in the said sentence of ex. 
communication beyond the time prescribed by law, shall be absolred 
by virtue of any appeal in any ecclesiastical court, unless the said 
party shall first in his or her own person, and not by a proctor, take the 
usual oath, De parendo Juri^ et sUmdo mandatis EcclesuB." 

From CAifour V. Aoainst Ssctarus. 

** Whereas there is a provision now made by a Canon for the sup* 
pressing of Popery, and the growth thereof, by subjecting all popish re- 
cusants to the great severity of ecclesiastical censures in that behalf: 
this present Synod well knowing that there are other sects which en- 
deavour the subversion both of the doctrine and discipline of the Church 
of England no less than Pftpists do, although by another way; for the 
preventing thereof, doth hereby decree and ordain, that all those pro- 
ceedings and penalties which are mentioned in the aforesaid Canon 
against popish recusants as for as they shall be applicable, shall stand 
in full force and vigour against all Anabaptists, Brownists, Separatists, 
Familists, or other sect or sects, person or persons whatsoever, who do 
or shall either obstinately refose or ordinarily, not having a lawful im- 
pediment, (that is, for the space of a month,) neglect to repair to their 
parish churches or chapels where they inhabit, for the hearing of di- 
vine service established, and receiving of the holy conununion accord- 
ing to law. 

*' And we do also further decree and ordain, that the clause contained 
in the Canon now made by this Synod against the books of Socinian- 
ism, shall also extend to the makers, importers, printers, and publish- 
ers, or dispersers of any book, writing, or scandalous pamphlet devised 
against the discipline and government of the Church of England, and 

192 chxhtiah Dimr of ookcidiiio 

unto die m&intainen and abettors of anj opinion or doctrine against 

•* And further, because there are sprung up among us a sort of fac- 
tious people, despisers and depravers of the Book of Common Prayer, 
who do not accoiding to the law resort to their parish church or chapel 
to join in the public prayers, service and worship of God with the con- 
gregation, contenting themselves with the hearing of sermons only, 
thinlung thereby to avoid the penalties due to such as wholly absent 
themselves from the Church. We therefore for the restraint of all 
such wilful contemners or neglecters of the service of God, do ordain, 
that the church or chapel-wardens^ and questmen, or sidemen of every 
parish, shall be careful to inquire out all such disaffected persons, and 
shall present the names of all delinquents at all Visitations of Bishops, 
and other Ordinaries ; and that the same proceedings and penalties 
mentioiied in the Canon aforesaid rcsi»cctivcly shall be used against 
them as against other recusants, unless within one whole month after 
they are first denounced, they shall make acknowledgment and refor- 
mation of that their fault. Provided always, that this Canon shall not 
derogate from any other Canon, law, or statute in that behalf provided 
against those sectaries." 

These Canons have been censured indeed by both Houses of Par- 
liament, during the civil war ; and they are expressly declared not to 
have the sanction of Parliament by a Clause in a Statute passed after 
the Restoration, cap. xii. anno 13 Car. II. § 5. But the Church has 
never disavowed them, and they are thus still on a footing with her 
other Canons which have not received the sanction of Parliament, and 
therefore are not accounted part of the law of the land. 

Bui they who charge on all the Roman Catholics of the present day 
the persecuting doctrines of the Council of Trent, are liable to another 
retort In the Apology of Bishop Jewell there occurs the following 
passage : — ^ Ex Ulo " (Verbo, soil, a Christo patefiu:to et ab Apostolis 
propagate) ** nos solo omne genus vetenun hsereticorum, quos isti nos 
aiunt ab inferis revocasse, condemnamus, et Arianos, Eutychianos, 
Marcionltas, Ebionseos, Valentinianos, Carpocratianos, Tatianos, Nova- 
tianos, eosque uno verbo omnes, qui vel de Deo Patre, vel do Christo, 
▼el de Spiritu Sancto, vel de ull& Mdk parte Religionis Christians 
impie senserunt, quia ab Evangelic Christi coarguuntur, impios et 
perditos pronuntiamus, et usque ad inferorum portas detestamur ; nee 
id sohm^ sed etiam si forte erumpani uspiam^ et sese prodantf eos ligUU 
mis el ctvUibus suppliciis severi et sino coercemus,*' Now Jewell's 
Apologj, to use the words of Bishop Randolph, ** is said to have been 

Boiuir cATBouo CLAiMf. igs 

published viththe consent of the Bishops, and was alwajs understood 
to ^ak the sense of the whole Church, in whose name it was writ- 
ten :" and this work expressly declares, and boasts that the Church of 
England, ^* severally and earnestly checks by secular and legal punish- 
ments," (and the term suppUctis is most naturally to be understood of 
capital punishments,) all who iu her opinion hold impious doctrines 
with regard to any point of the Chrialian religion. Nor is this all, for 
this very work of Jewell's containing this avowal of persecution was 
reprinted by Bishop Randolph in 1792, and again in 1812, amongst a 
Collection of Tracts, Catechisms, &c., whose express object was to 
convey the genuine sense of the Church of England. (See the Preface 
to the Enchiridion Theologicum, .Oxford, 1812.) And yet should we 
not repel it as a calumny only excusable from the utter ignorance which 
it implied, if a Nestorian or Polish Socinian, unacquainted with the 
toleration actuaUy enjoyed in England, and the actual sentiments of 
its members, were to assert that the Church of England is a persecut. 
ing Church, and thinks it her duty to bum all those whom she judges 
to be heretics 7 

The Catholics, it is true, are entangled by a difficulty which we do 
not feel, in their tenet of the infallibility of the Church. I call it an 
. entanglement and a difficulty, for that is the true light in which to con- 
sider it. The tenet of the infallibility of the Church does not really 
keep the Catholics in perpetual ignorance, but it embarrasses them in 
the expression of their sentiments, and gives Protestants a means of 
unfiiirly perplexing and misrepresenting them. That is to say, that 
such being the tenet of the Church to which he belongs, an individual 
Catholic does not like directly to disavow it : his habitual respect for 
the Church makes him inclined generally to admit her infallibility ; so 
that when he meets with particuUr decisions whose truth he cannot in 
his own mind allow, he would rather express his disbelief practically 
and indirectly, than by stating it directly permit himself to be charged 
with the conclusion, that then he must admit the Church to be fallible. 
It would be rather hard to tax the mathematicians of France and 
Italy with believing that the earth is the centre of the solar system ; 
yet the Jesuits who edited Newton's Principia thought it right to de- 
clare in their Preface, that although in oider to illustrate Newton's 
reasoning they were obliged to assume the truth of his premises, yet 
they did not mean to deny the doctrine of the Church, which had de- 
clared the earth to be immoveable. No one is misled by such lan- 
guage in this instance : and if we dealt fiiirly with the Catholics we 
should in moral and politkral matters also believe their practice and 
the general tenor of their bmguage, although they have not renounced, 


ud perhaps would not renoonce, if called vqpon to do 80» the general 
tenet of the Church with which their practice and sentimenU may be 
inconsistent* We may call this if we will inconsistency or self de- 
ceit: but a similar state of mind is Tcry common amongst those who 
are not Catholics ; and it is certainly unjust either to tax them with 
consequences which they do not acknowledge, however legitimately 
drawn from their premises ; or to represent them as insincere and un- 
worthy of confidence in the ordinary duties and business of life, be- 
cause in one of the most intricate parts of human duty they may not 
have traced their path clearly and boldly. I call it one of the most 
intricate parts of human duty, where a man is divided between his 
respect for the authority, and the inability of his reason to admit what 
that authority has declared : where he cannot practically agree, yet the 
public and direct expression of disagreement would break through ties 
which he holds most sacred. In these circumstances, which are inci* 
dent more or less to all men in their relations with societies, but most 
of all in their relations with their Church or religious society, it is per- 
fectly easy to silence or perplex an adversary, but not so to convince 
him, and release him from his entanglement. If we wish really to re- 
move a tenet which is a certainly a great impediment to the improve^ 
ment of the Roman Catholic Church, we must not appeal to it on every 
occasion as rendering improvement impossible and incredible : we 
must welcome and encourage every effort of individuals to release 
themselves from it, although they cannot distinctly disavow it without 
separating from a Church which they reverence ; and the Church itself 
has no means of expressing its voice, since no General Council is 
likely to be ever again called together. 

If I were writing politically I should hardly dwell longer on this part 
of the subject ; but viewing the restoration of Catholics to their civil 
rights as opening, with God's blessing, the fairest prospect of their re- 
ligious improvement, and considering that the realizing or disappoint- 
ment of this prospect will mainly depend upon the conduct of the Pro- 
testant clergy, I am anxious to combat the notion that the Roman Ca- 
tholic religion is unchangeable and incurable, and that our business is 
only to try to gain individual converts from it, not to improve it by peaceful 
influence judiciously exerted. Now I believe that avowed proselytism 
will do very little in converting individuals, whilst it will irritate the 
bulk of the Roman Catholic Church, will keep alive a spirit of contro- 
▼ersy always most unfavourable to the arriving at truth, and will con- 
firm and aggravate those obnoxious tenets which we wish to do away 
with. On the contrary, our object should be to lead the Catholics first 
to alter practically the character of their religion by dwelling chiefly 




on tbom points which thej hold at Christians, and avoidiDx as much 
as possible to draw their attention to their peculiar tenets as Roman 
Catholics. We should try to foster that state of mind so beautifully de- 
picted in a little work equally pious and eloquent, in which the sincere 
Catholic priest, who dares not in his humility renounce the communion 
of his Church, is represented as converted from its errors to all pur^ 
poses of his soul's salvation by sinking all minor points, and dwelling 
entirely on the love of Christ. We should study the gradual progress 
of the corruptions of Popery, and observe how large a portion of them 
grew out of the common superstition and common vices of human na- 
ture, deepening with the deeper ignorance of the times, and likely to 
be first softened and finally dispelled with the progressive brightening 
of Christian light. We should direct our particular attention to the 
band which has united these into one mass, and thus given them a 
greater than their natural power of evil, a longer than their natural 
term of existence. Then we should see that this band, I mean the doc- 
trines of the authority of the Church, and of the Papal supremacy, was 
first forpied by honest ignorance upon principles whose fiilsehood we 
have ourselves hardly yet discovered, was then strengthened by men 
of great ability and lofty views, as a powerful means of counteracting 
the violences and abuses of the times ; and was lastly nutintained as an 
instrument of the lowest covetousness and ambition, and was thus 
wearing its most odious form when it was first exposed to a general 
attack. The attack of the Reformation was thus vehement, for the 
evil which it assailed was monstrous : but this vehemence excited the 
angry passions to defend what the baser passions had before maintaned 
from interest, and frightened the humble and the ignorant by denounc- 
ing as a mass of iniquity, what to them amidst all its evils had still im- 
parted some drops of the water of life. Those in authority insisted that 
the system was one and indivisible, because the tainted part which 
would otherwise have been instantly cut out, was that which they most 
desired to keep : those who were engaged in the controversy as usual 
lost sight of truth in their ardour for victory, and defended error because 
their opponents had attacked it ; while the ignorant shrunk from the 
sin of heresy, and trembled at the thought of abandoning the Catholic 
Church of Christ. The Reformers on the other hand shared on many 
points the mistaken views of their adversaries, and therefore combated 
them unskilfully. W^hat was a departure firom Christian unity, what 
was the Church of Christ, and how its reUtions with corrupt forms of 
civil government had rendered the language of the New Testament in 
some respects inapplicable now, were questions which in the sixteenth 
men were too recently awakened from a long sleep of ignorance to be 


aUe to answer. To these must be added the otOs occmsioned bj a 
misuiiderstanding of the nature and uses of the Old Testament ; and 
the perpetual reference to the Jewish covenant as an authority for in- 
stitutions and practices among Christians. Hence the cry of idolatry 
so loudly raised against the Church of Rome, and the bitter intolerance 
with which its worship and its members were regarded. Meantime 
national and political animosities mingled themselves with the religious 
dissension, and the breach between Catholics and Protestants became 
decided throughout Europe. A period of peace succeeded, of external 
peace, but with no approximations towards union. Other objects occu- 
pied the chief place in the attention of mankind ; commerce was great- 
ly extended ; the useful arts, the physical sciences, and all the branches 
of general literature, were assiduously cultivated. Men's minds were 
engrossed with the present, forgetful of its indissoluble connexion with 
the past and the future. In the preceding age religious controversy had 
been loud, and religious bigotry ferocious : it was succeeded by reli- 
gious indifference ; and thus the ignorance on this point remained as a 
single dark spot amidst the rapidly advancing light of secular knowledge. 
The efiects of this secular knowledge, for knowledge it really was, 
were felt in that great convulsion from which we have lately recovered* 
aad to whose beneficent severity we and our children to the most dis- 
tant times may look back with gratitude. Evils which the Reformation 
was powerless to remedy, have now been swept away ; and never was 
so fair a prospect of universal improvement opened upon mankind be- 
fore. One thing was wanting in the great crisis which we have wit- 
nessed ; the heavenly wisdom which the Gospel gives us, purified from 
all the corruptions of earthly ignorance, and united in just society as the 
companion and directress of political wisdom. Enlightened and bene- 
Tolent statesmen * saw in Christianity as presented to their view, no- 
thing but a system to maintain ignorance and iniquity : humble and de- 
Tout Christians shrank from the truest views of social improvement be- 
cause they were advocated by unbelievers. It was a bitter price that 
we paid for the ignorance that had so long neglected to develope the 
principles of the Gospel, and for the baseness which had corrupted 
them. During the last century then, Christianity was too much ne- 

* 1 allade particularij to Turgot and Maleshcrbes ; the notes of Condorcet on Pai. 
eal*i Pens^es also strongly illustrate the statements in the text In the note on the 
5Srd elaose of the 17th Article of the ** Pensdes," part 3., the various evil principles 
and actions which have either made a part of the institutions of countries nominallj 
Christian, or have generallj existed uncondenmcd bj the ministers of Christianitj, are 
slated with a force and puritj which one would rather expect to find in Pascal than 
ia his commentator. 


fleeted bj the public mind throughoot Europe to afford any chance of 
clearing it from the abuses and erroneous notions which had encumbered 
it In an earlier century the political knowledge and experience, the libe- 
ral views, and the dispassionate judgment required for so great a work, 
had been generally wanting ; now they existed, but were directed to 
other objects. The work still remains to be done, to apply the foil 
lights of modem knowledge to the true development of the principles of 
the Gospel as applicable to man in a state of civil society ; and thus and 
thus only will Protectants and Catholics be brought to a true Christian 
union ; retaining if they will their separate social existence, but co-ope- 
rating cordially in their one great work, to prepare themselves by es- 
tablishing God's kingdom on earth for the everlasting enjoyment of it 
in heaven. 

Then the very comer stone of Roman Catholic intolerance, the 
opinion that there is no salvation out of the pale of the Church, may 
be stripped of all its mischief^ and reduced to the simple expression of 
a great Scriptural trath, that God's covenanted mercies can only be 
promised to such as are within the covenant ; that in the ark of Christ's 
Church alone is certain safety, and without it all is a dark wildemess 
of doubt and danger. The evil of the proposition has arisen from the 
fitlse opinion that Christ's redeemed people must all form one separate 
ecclesiastical society, when we know that God's created people are not 
required to form one separate civil society. Had the countries in which 
Christianity was first preached been as now politically unconnected 
with each other, the confusion never would have arisen : for then the 
Christians in one nation must have formed a society avowedly distinct 
from those in another. Spiritually indeed they would have been one 
society, inasmuch as they would have had the same divine Head, the 
same indwelling Spirit, the same hope, and the same God ; but exter- 
nally they would have been perfectly independent, and competent like 
all other societies to form their own rules and appoint their own offi- 
cers. But the first Christians being accidentally members of the same 
political society, naturally regarded themselves as forming also only 
one ecclesiastical society : and as their civil sovereign resided at Rome, 
so they looked to the same place for their ecclesiastical head ; just as 
the branch religious societies in our several counties are subordinate to 
a central and supreme society in London. That which has always 
happened soon comes to be considered as necessary ; and therefore 
because the Church had in point of fact been one society, it was de- 
clared that it essentially and necessarily was so : because the head of 
the central society at Rome was naturally the head of all the previa, 
cial societies, it was made out that his supremacy was not accidental 

198 CHUSTiAir Durr of ooncboiko 

and temporaiy, but necessaiy and pcrpetuaL But a perpetual and 
neceesaiy head of the Church was certainlj Christ's vicar: and for so 
great an office it might well be supposed that an extraordinary portion 
of Christ's Spirit would be vouchsafed to him. The conclusion indeed 
was reasonable ; and had Christ's servants been designed to form of 
necessity one society, had it been their Lord's pleasure, that that should 
be without the common right of all other societies, the right of self- 
government, and be of necessity subject to one head« it is probable that 
this head would have been clearly marked out for his office by possess- 
ing superior gills and graces, just as men are thus clearly marked out 
for authority over children, and dominion over the brute creation. And 
therefore tlie fact, that the bishops of Ro-ne have not possessed this 
perpetual superiority of goodness and wisdom, renders it probable that 
they were not designed to be the perpetual heads of the Church, and 
that Christians as such possess the same rights of self-government in 
ecclesiastical society, which they enjoy as men in civil society. Now 
Protestants have seen and allowed all this as far as the supremacy of 
the Pope is concerned, but by retaining themselves a portion of the 
original error of Popery they have found it more difficult to combat the 
condnaions which that error gave rise to. They shared the error of 
the Catliolics in supposing that the Church must be one society in a 
sense differing from that in which all mankind are one society ; and 
therefare in order to acquit themselves of what they called the sin of 
achism, in separating from the Church, they charged that Church with 
idolatij, that they might represent it as a greater sin to remain in com- 
munion with it. Whereas had they remembered that the members of 
one nation are connected as Christians with the members of another 
nation only in the same way that they are connected with them as men ; 
redeemed and sanctified by the same God, as the same God also created 
them; with the same spiritual, as they have the same natural fiu^ulties; 
and aiming at one common perfection of the former as they do of the 
latter ; with one common law of reason binding them as men, and one 
commoB law of the Spirit binding them as Christians, but left equally 
as Christians and as men, to form their own municipal or particular 
laws, and to determine that form of government by which they may 
respectively judge their common objects most likely to be obtained in 
their own case, independence would have implied no schism, nor would 
they have sought to aggravate the errors of their neighbours in order 
to make out a just ground of quarrel, when their forming themselves 
into a distinct society was no breach of charity, and should have been 
consideied as no quarrel at all. 
The Roman Catholics then are right in nfinintw'"«"gT that out of 



Christ's Church there is no covenanted salvation : but they are wrong, 
and many Protestants share in their error, in mistaking the accidental 
state of the Church at its first origin for something essential to its na. 
ture : as it, because it was one society then in the strictest sense of the 
term, it must be in some other than a spiritual sense one society now. 
In that spiritual sense indeed it is ever one : but in that sense all are 
members of it, to how many soever subordinate forms of Christian 
society they may respectively belong, so long as they acknowledge the 
same Maker and Saviour and Sanctifier, so long as they are one with 
each other, not in forms and regulations, but in principle and in spirit, 
in the Father and in the Son. And therefore when sincere Protestants* 
would acknowledge as members of the Catholic Church of Christ those 
societies of Christians only which are governed by Bishops, on the 
ground that amongst them alone the apostolical succession is preserved, 
there appears a misapprehension of the true nature of a spiritual soci- 
ety, and a participation in the same erroneous views which have led 
the Romanists to exclude from their sense of the Catholic Church all 
who will not acknowledge the succession of the Popes from St. Peter 
the chief of the apostles. 

The principle which we should follow in our endeavours to purify 
the Roman Catholic religion, might be exemplified in numerous other 
instances : but it will better suit my present limits if I state once naore 
what it is, and show the bearing of what I have last written upon my 
general suliject. The principle is this ; that we should trace the errors 
of the Catholics to their origin, and should thus perceive how much of 
them is mere corruption, that is, error introduced for an interested or 
ambitious purpose ; how much arises from ignorance or misconception, 
and what the misconception was ; and, above all, how much of truth 
is mixed with the error, and may be extracted from it by a carefiil and 
delicate analysis. In doing this we should also observe how far Pio« 
testants have either condemned the whole of a tenet of the Romish 
Church, without discrimination, or themselves retain the original error 
which gave birth to it, and therefore contend against it on wrong 
grounds. We should consider that our true object is not to convert 
Catholics to Protestantism, but to perfect their views and our own to 
the fiill wisdom and holmess of Christianity, although we may each 
remain distinct societies, and retain difl»rent rites and internal regula- 

* I aOade to a Sennon pobliihed two or three yean nnce, bj the Rev. Walter 
Hook, of Christ Church, Oxford. I have the leaa acmple in mentioiiing hia name, 
aa I know him to be a sincere and seabaiminiflter of Christ ; and my belief that hk 
views on one point are errooeoua, does not interfere with my high raipect for bis 




tions. We should substitute inquiiy for controversy ; not wishing to 
bring them over to our side, but that both they and we should be on the 
side of truth, renouncing our errors, and clearing our views when indis- 
tinct and imperfect. "Whercunto we have already attained, let us 
walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing :" that is to sayi 
while aspiring to more perfect knowledge, let not those who are more 
advanced despise their more backward brethren, but let both walk In 
the same rule of Christian holiness, and with the same spirit of Chris- 
tian charity. 

And for the application of all this to the great Question which now 
engrosses the whole mind of England ; I wish to impress upon the 
Christian opponents of concession, that while I maintain the positive 
duty of granting the Catholic claims as an act of simple justice, it is 
also witli the most deliberate conviction, that thus and thus only can 
the spiritual improvement of our Catholic countrymen ever be cflccted. 
If Protestants will not enduro to hear tlie language of impartiality and 
charity towards the Catholics, if they will only look upon them as men 
without truth, and without humanity, as ferocious bigots and blasphe- 
mous idolaters, do they think that the Catholics can be more favoura- 
bly disposed to them, when over and above the irreligious prejudices 
they must entertain against them the galling sense of national and civil 
injustice ? What Protestant missionary, however holy and eloquent, 
can have any chance of influencing men, who are not only daily reviled 
by Protestants, but actually degraded and oppressed by them ; are treated 
as aliens in their own land, as unfit and unworthy to become citizens 
of their own country ? They who are most zealous in their endeavours 
to convert the slaves in the West Indies to Christianity, are also most 
eager to effect their temporal deliverance : they are regarded therefore 
as friends, and the Gospel is doubly loved for the sake of those who 
offer the knowledge of it. Would the negroes listen to a mission of 
tyrannical overseers, who spoke to them with the whip in one hand 
and the Bible in the other; or to a set of plantation proprietors, who 
had most steadily refused to adopt every measure recommended by the 
government of Britain for the improvement of their temporal condition 7 
We have a great, a solemn duty to perform towards our Irish brethren ; 
we have connected them with ourselves, and therefore we are bound 
first to do them justice, and then to do them kindness : to labour at this 
eleventh hour to atone for the long day during which we have not only 
neglected to do them good, but have heaped upon them evil alike physi- 
cal and moral. 

The great numerical majority of the clergy of England are united 
against doing an act of Christian justice, and Christian wisdom : and 


they tax their opponents with acting upon worldly views, and sacrificing 
their religion to political expediency, I will not retort by impugning 
the motives of those who think differently from me, nor by depreciating 
their understandings, I know that there are amongst them men who 
are not to be surpassed in holiness of life, or in vigour of natural abili- 
ties. But what they do want, and I speak it neither reproachfully nor 
insultingly, is acquired knowledge and impartiality. It is notorious that 
a large portion of them abstain habitually upon principle from the study 
of politics ; and how can they possibly understand what they have 
refused to learn ? And what is the ordinary education of a clergyman 7 
The history of his own country, except in a mere abridgment, forms no 
part of his necessary studies either at school or at the university ; still 
less does it generally occupy his attention when he begins to prepare 
himself for his own profession. Many persons certainly read much 
more than they are compelled to do ; but not the majority ; and in point 
of fact, I should not underrate the historical knowledge of the mass of 
the clergy, if I supposed them to have read Hume, perhaps with Smol- 
lett's Continuation, Clarendon, and Burnet's History of the Reforma- 
tion. Of the Laws and of the progress of our Constitution of England 
they know but little ; and of the history of the other nations of Europe 
their knowledge is commonly still more limited. The impressions 
which they gain from the writers I have mentioned, for with the mass 
of readers the tone of an author's sentiments leaves a much deeper im- 
pression than his detail of facts, are all in favour of Toryism, or against 
the Catholics ; and these in the present state of affairs belong to tho 
same party, and lead to the same political conduct. Their professional 
studies tend to produce the same bias : their making the thirty-nine 
Articles the text book for a large portion of their theological reading, 
accustoms them to look at religion controversially ; they learn what are 
the arguments by which the Catholics are to be combated ; and the 
obnoxious tenets of the Romish Church are brought before their eyes 
in their most offensive form, while the good parts of the system, and 
the causes which led to its errors, and which, although they do not 
make them less errors, yet would often moderate our dislike and sus- 
picion of those who held them, are not presented to them. With this 
previous education, if they travel for a short time* on the continent of 

* A longrcr residence abroad might perhaps lead to a different result I was tol^ 
two years a^ by an English Ciergymm who has resided at Rume since the year 
1814, that he settled there with a sirong irapression against the Roman Cdtholic reli- 
gion, and against granting tho claims of the Catholics of Ireland : that hit teuie of 
the evils and errors of tho Qutholic religion had become continually stronger and 
stronger ; but his opinion with regard to the Catholic Qucstioa was whoUy changed * 



Europe, and particularly if they visit Italy, they return home with preju- 
dices increased and ignorance unenlightened. With little knowledge 
of the history and literature of the countries they travel through, and 
with few personal acquaintances among the people to soften their feel- 
ings towards them, they catch directly at those gross exhibitions of 
superstition which are so common, and think that they have now a 
confirmation of all their former notions of the monstrous nature of 

On their return home they settle mostly in country parishes, and 
the little time they can spare from their pastoral duties for pursuing 
their own studies, is naturally devoted to works on divinity. In this 
state of mind and with this previous education, the Catholic Question 
presents itself to their notice : a question involving at once the first 
principles of civil society ; and requiring a copious knowledge of the 
history of the Christian Church, of the constitution and parties of 
England, of the history and institutions of several of the nations of the 
Continent. They who have never considered great political questions, 
nor have examined the origin of civil society, and the rights and du- 
ties of individuals as members of it, cannot appreciate the sin of that 
flagrant injustice which we have offered to the Catholics of Ireland. 
They who know not the history of the Christian Church, are ignorant 
of the causes which led successively to the growth of Popery, and 
know not the probability of its improvement, if its nature be thoroughly 
understood, and a suitable plan of dealing with it be devised. They 
who have never studied the contests of our parties, and the vicissitudes 
of our government, are not aware that in their sense of the term we 
have no constitution at all ; that we have no code in which the prin- 
ciples of our government were at once fully laid down, and the whole 
social edifice constructed according to thero ; but that what we call 
our constitution is a state of things resulting from various successive 
struggles, each of which had its own particular object, and led to it» 
own particular reform. Thus the struggle which ended at the Revolu- 
tion of 1688, was substantially and in principle, whether the crown or 

and be was satisfied that there was no prospect of relieving Ireland from its superrti- 
tions, bat by granting to the Catholics their civil rights, and so alienating them from 
their dependence on Rome by uniting them on equal terms to their Protestant coun- 

In confirmation of this view of the subject, I know that some of the principal mem. 
bers of the Papal Government, in conversation with an individual totally unconnected 
with England, have expressed their apprehensions lest the Catholic claims t^ould be 
granted ; as the influence actually enjoyed by the Pope, m Ireland, would then be 
superseded in the minds of the Irish by natural feclioc* 9^ attachsaent to their coua. 
try and oonstitation. 


the nation as represented in Parliament should possess the efiectiTe 
control of our government ; and all the enactments against Catholics 
were merely accidental, and arose partly out of the circumstance that 
the popular party in the last two reigns had consisted chiefly of Puri* 
tans; partly because persecution of Popery was the only point in 
which the Tories could sympathize with the Whigs ; and they were 
glad by their zeal against the Catholics to compensate for their long 
oppression of the Protestant Dissenters ; and partly because the great 
reliance of the two last Stuart princes was on the support of the 
Catholic despotism of France. But so little are the principles of Ro- 
man Catholics necessarily adverse to civil liberty, that had the quarrels 
between the Guelphs and Ghibelines lasted for three centuries longerf 
we should have seen the Pope supporting and supported by the free 
Republics of Italy in a contest against the Protestant tjrranny and high 
monarchical doctrines of the emperors of Germany. They who know 
the Roman Catholic religion only from tho naked statement of its worst 
tenets as exhibited in the works of Protestant controversialists — and 
are ignorant of what it is and has been in practice for the last hundred 
and hdj years wherever it has been placed in peaceful contact with 
Protestantism — judge of it naturally from the tendency of its most of- 
fensive principles, supposing that all men will carry their principles 
into practice, and ignorant of the checks and palliatives which in 
actual life neutralize their virulence. Not feeling therefore the sin of 
national injustice, not understanding the nature of Catholicism, not ac- 
quainted with our parties and their struggles, not familiar with the 
actual state of the Catholic Religion in other countries, they act upon 
one impression only, which their education and professional studies 
have alike fostered, that Popery is an unchristian thing, and that no- 
thing should be done to favour it. Influenced by this impression them- 
selves they Impart it to their parishioners, whose ignorance is more 
complete, and their passions more violent ; and thus a clamour is 
raised, powerful from the numbers that join in it, and respectable from 
the honesty of their motives ; but worth nothing in determining the 
merits of tho Question, as the knowledge of those who raise it is so 
little proportioned to their zeal. I know that it savours of arrogance 
to claim a superiority^of knowledge over those who differ fix)m us ; 
and the carvers among the lions would no doubt represent the matter 
dififerently. Yet the statement which I have given of the ordinary 
education and studies of the most active class of our opponents is ontf. 
which they themselves cannot deny ; nor can it be denied on the other 
hand, that all those statesmen who have most considered the Question, 
and whose means of Information have been the fullest, have, with 


an unanimity unparalleled on any other public measure, agreed in 
their judgment, that the claims of the Catholics should be granted. 
The accession of the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel to this distin- 
guished band has given to the argument from authority a force which 
admits of no further increase. The leading ministers of the country 
who had for many years opposed concession, have exposed themselves, 
without any conceivable motive but the conscientious conviction of 
fuller knowledge to all the vulgar odium which attaches to every change 
of opinion, and have offended a powerful party, whose devoted attach- 
ment they had hitherto possessed, in order to add their voice to the con- 
senting wisdom of all our other great statesmen, and to declare that 
the claims of the Catholics should be opposed no longer. Here then 
we find the warmest opponents of the Catholics to be men whose 
political knowledge is from education and profession greatly defective ; 
while on the other hand those who have united the greatest natural 
abilities with the fullest information are unanimous in advocating their 
cause. And if it be urged that it is a religious question rather than a 
political one, and that on points of religion no authority can be su- 
perior to that of the clergy, I will answer, that this argument is either 
false or inapplicable. It is false that it is a religious question, in that 
only sense in which the clergy could be the best judges of it; namely, 
if the point at issue were, whether the doctrines of the Catholic or the 
Protestant Church were most agreeable to Scripture. A religious 
question indeed it is in another sense, inasmuch as every question of 
practice concerns our religious duty to God, and every act of injustice, 
every stumbling-block that is thrown in the way of our neighbour's 
spiritual improvement, is a sin for which we must answer at God's 
judgment seat. But in the discernment of our duties as members of 
civil societies, the clergy assuredly are not the best judges ; because 
the origin, rights, and successive revolutions of civil societies they 
avowedly neglect to study. 

In the foregoing pages I have endeavoured to treat the Question as 
a religious one ; to urge the granting of the Catholic claims as ill itself 
a necessary act of Christian justice, and as the only means by which 
we may be enabled to perform to our Irish brethren hereafter our 
bounden duty of Christian charity, in advancing their physical, moral, 
and spiritual good. I have never forgotten that I am a Christian minis- 
ter myself, and that those whose attention to my arguments I most 
wish to gain, are Christian ministers also. Earnestly, solemnly, 
would I entreat them to believe, that my love for our common faith is 
not less than theirs, and my desire to promote the kingdom of our com- 
mon Master not less sincere ; that the principles which I have main- 


tained I believe to be those of Christ's Gospel, and that certainly the 
more often and attentively I have studied that Gospel, I have been the 
more fuUy satisfied of their truth. 


Since the foregoing pages were written some letters written by Mr. 
Faber, and published in the St. James's Chronicle, are considered by 
many persons to contain arguments against concession to the Catholics, 
which on religious grounds are unanswerable. Those letters had not 
seemed to me to deserve any particular attention. I was besides un- 
willing to enter into controversy with an individual, for whose charac- 
ter as a Christian I had been accustomed to feel much respect. But 
as others judge differently of Mr. Faber's reasoning, I request their 
candid attention to the following attempt to reply to it. 

Mr. Faber's views of the Catholic Question and mine diflfor at the 
very outset. He throws aside the argument from right ''as a pal- 
pable folly," '' because no individual possesses any abstract right to 
the possession of political power." And having thus decided that no 
man can urge concession to the Catholic claims as a point of duty, he 
considers that it can only be defended by arguments drawn from expe- 
diency, and from terror ; meaning by expediency that some motive 
which is in private life called self-interest ; and by terror, the feeling 
that weakly shrinks from difficulty and danger. He thus denies that 
any man can advocate the Catholic claims on the grounds of Christian 
principle, and using the terms ''expediency and terror" in a sense 
which makes them synonymous with two of the very basest of human 
motives, ho fastens a severe and uncandld imputation upon those who 
differ from him. 

I on the contrary maintain, that the argument from right is perfectly 
decisive of the whole Question ; because nations and societies of men 
large and varied enough in their elements to form distinct nations, have 
an eternal right to possess political power over themselves ; and if they 
unite with other societies, it follows that as each when separate had a 
right to the wfiole government of itself, so each when united has a 
right to a share of the government of itself and its associate. 

I further maintain, that the argument from charity, or a regard to the 
general welfare of the society to which we belong, is no less decisive 
than the argument from right - that the welfare of this whole nation both 
temporal and spiritual will be highly advanced by the removal of a per- 
petual cause of discord between two important parts of it, and the am* 


sequent growth of " peace and happiness, religion and piety," as the 
natural fruits of an act founded on " truth and justice." And this ar- 
gument from charity is in all national questions of internal policy an- 
other name for the argument from expediency. For where no foreign 
nation is concerned, the welfare of his country, or what is most expe- 
dient for the good of that country, is to a statesman precisely the ob- 
ject which as a member of it he is most bound to promote ; and to aim 
at which is not selfishness, but comprehensive charity. 

I maintain thirdly, that the dread of occasioning physical and moral 
evil to others, especially when we ourselves shall partake perhaps of 
the moral evil, but are not likely to be affected by the physical, is a 
most honourable and Christian terror ; and that he who is without it is 
in a degraded state both intellectually and morally. And the terror of 
provoking a civil war in Ireland, the terror of sweeping slaughter, con- 
flagration, massacres, and executions ; the terror of letting loose with- 
out restraint all the worst passions of human nature, while they them- 
selves would be living in peace, and would be certain of political vic- 
tory without incurring any personal risk or suffering, this is the terror 
which the legislators and ministers of England are reproached with, as 
if it were no other than the low and unworthy fear which shrinks from 

So much then for what Mr. Faber calls " the palpable folly" of the 
argument from right ; and so much for his assertion that " the argu- 
ment from expediency involves in its very nature a total disregard to 
moral honesty, if such moral honesty stand in the way of fancied con- 
venience :" and " the argument from terror avowedly reposes on a 
disgraceful confession of the most degrading moral cowardice." 

But having thus disposed of these arguments /or concession, he pro- 
ceeds to bring forward what he considers a decisive argument against 
it ; namely, the argument from " religious responsibility." Of this, he 
says, he has never heard the slightest mention ; but, on the contrary, 
*^ he has sometimes noted the objection that the question is purely poli- 
tical, and that it has no concern with religion." Now I agree so far 
with Mr. Faber, that I think we do hear too little " mention of our re- 
ligious responsibility ;" that is, that we are not enough accustomed to 
consider ourselves responsible to God for all our actions whether in pri- 
vate life or in public : and liable to his judgment alike for national and 
political as for individual injustice, when we make it our own act 
by instigating it, or trying to prevent its removal. In this sense there- 
fore I think that the Catholic Question has a great deal to do with re- 
ligion. But if those who say it has no concern with religion mean, as Mr. 
Faber must know that they do mean, that in doing justice to our neighs 


boor the cansideration of his religioiis belief is wholly foreign to the 
question ; and that a judge who were to make a lawsuit between a Ca- 
tholic and a Protestant a religious question in Mr. Faber's sense of the 
temiy and were to regard not the merits of the case but the religioos 
belief of the ]>arties, would not be more *^ religiously responsible" for 
his unjust judgment, than the government which should decide a dis- 
pute between a Catholic and a protestant people on these same grounds, 
then they mean no more than is perfectly true, and Mr. Faber has said 
nothing that can shake their statement. 

Let us see howeyer what his arguments against concession from 
^ religious responsibility" is built upon. The members of both Houses 
of Parliament before they take their seats make an oath, in which is 
contained the following clause. '* I do believe that the invocation or 
adoration of the Virgin Mary, or any other saint, and the sacrifice of 
the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are supersA- 
tiaus and idoUUrous.^^ Therefore, says Mr. Faber, every Member of 
both Houses has sworn that he believes Popery to be idolatry : and to 
vote therefore *^ for a national union with the Romanists" is to vote 
*' for a national union with those whom he has declared to be idola- 
ters ;" that is to say, it is to vote '^ for the perfect ingraflation of idol- 
atry" upon what Mr. Faber and others '^ have fondly deemed their ex- 
clusively Protestant constitution.'^ And in order to extend this argo. 
ment to those who are not members of the Legislature, he reminds all 
persons who have subscribed to the thirty-nine Articles, that is, all the 
clergy and all graduates at both universities, that ^' our national Church 
in her accredited Homilies (Homilies recognised in her Articles) has 
pronounced Popery to be idolatry." 

I believe I have stated Mr. Faber's argument fully and fairly. Now 
although I have subscribed the Articles, in which the Homilies are re- 
cognised, yet I da not feel myself at all bound to think or to call the 
Roman Catholic religion '^ idolatry," in Mr. Faber's meaning of the 
term ; nor should I feci myself bound to do so, if I had taken the oath 
imposed on all Members of Parliament. And if I did believe that 
Popery was idolatry, I should no less think that concession to the 
claims of the Roman Catholics of Ireland was, in our circumstancesi 
a positive Christian duty. These several statements I am now to en- 
deavour to justify. 

I have subscribed to the thirty-fifth Article of the Church of England, 
which declares that ^' the second book of Homilies doth contain a godly 
and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the 
former book of Homilies :" '^ and therefore," it proceeds, ^* we judge 
them to be read in churches by the ministers, diligently and distinctlyy 
that they may be understanded of the people." In saying that a bo<^ 


"doth contain a godly and wholesome doctrine," do I pledge mjselfto 
maintain the justice of the exact degree of condemnation which it at- 
taches to those who hold the opposite doctrine ? nay, do I even pledge 
my assent to all the doctrine which it may itself contain ? The Homi- 
lies do " contain a godly and Christian doctrine," for they contain the 
doctrines of the Gospel, and their predominant character is accord- 
ing to that Gospel. But may these doctrines never be stated with 
some exaggeration, and may they not be accompanied with too 
fierce a tone of condemnation against those who differ from them? 
Jewell's Apology contains a " godly and Christian doctrine," but do I 
by saying this, pledge my approbation or assent to that passage which 
I have already extracted, in which he declares that the Church of Eng- 
land detests all whom it considers heretics, to the gates of hell, and 
punishes them by the secular arm wherever it can find them ? Nay, 
with regard to the Homilies, I conceive, that the omission of the Bishops 
for many years past to enforce " the diligent reading of them in the 
churches" expresses their belief as well as that of the majority of the 
clergy, that although they were necessary for the times to which the epi- 
thet ** these" was applicable when the Article was written, yet that the 
word " these" has not a perpetually varying application, so as to signiQr 
all times from the sixteenth century downwards. And for those who 
extol the Revolution of 1C88 with a claim of such exclusive attachment 
to it, do they conceive themselves bound to admit all the doctrines of 
the " Homily against Rebellion ?" 

" But the Members of both Houses of Parliament have sworn that 
they believe Popery to be idolatry." They have sworn no such thing* 
but simply, " that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary, or 
any other saint, and the sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in 
the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous." The adoration 
of any creature, that is to say, the putting any created being in the 
place of God, and worshipping him as the Author of spiritual good, 
would certainly be idolatry ; but this adoration the Roman Catholic 
Church disclaims as earnestly as we do. "D. Peut-on adorer les 
anges et les saints ? R. Non, on ne peut adorer que Dieu seul ; mais 
nous honorons et nous invoquons les anges et les saints comroe les 
amis et les serviteurs de Dieu. D. Adorons-nous la Tres-Sainte 
Vierge ? R. Non, il n'est pas plus permis d'adorer la Tres-Sainte 
Vierge que les autres saints ; mais nous Thonorons d'un mani^re plus 
particuliere que les saints et les anges." Catechisme imprimi paror^ 
dre de son Excellence Monseigneur VArcheveque de Rheims^ pour Vusage 
de son Diocese. Rheims, 1822. p. 112, 113. The invocation of crea- 
tures after they have departed from this world and no longer stand to 
us in any human relation, is so apt to border upon worship, and as it i« 


now used in the more ignorant Roman Catholic countries, so often be- 
comes worship, that it may justly be termed in praclicef that is, <u i< is 
now used inihe Church of Rome^ superstitious and idolatrous. In practice 
it is idolatrous : but does it therefore follow that the whole Roman Catho- 
lic Religion is to be branded as idolatry, that is as an apostacy from the 
worship of God and the substitution of some creature or creatures in the 
place of God, because one of its doctrines is superstitious and of danger- 
ous consequence, and leads amongst the ignorant to idolatrous practicOt 
not necessarily or designedly, but from its exceeding liability to abuse ? 
If Popery be idolatry, it is not a true religion grievously corrupted, but a 
fiilse religion altogether : nay, it is worse than Mahommedanism, for 
even Mahommedans worship one eternal, invisible, and spiritual God, 
the Maker and Preserver of all things visible and invisible. Now if 
this has been the language of some individuals in the Church of Eng- 
land, it has certainly not been the general sense of her members : they 
have held that the Church of Rome was a true Church, although griev- 
ously corrupted ; that the Church of Rome has ** erred," to use the lan- 
guage of the nineteenth Article, '* in matters of faith," like the Churches 
of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch ; but that it has not therefore 
wholly forfeited the character of a Christian Church, any more than 
they. I need hardly remind my readers of the sentiments of Hooker, 
which exposed him indeed to the censure of the Puritans of those days* 
that the Church of Rome is a Christian Church, and holds the founda- 
tion of Christian faith, although some of her doctrines deny that foun- 
dation by consequence. Such in my judgment is the true construction 
of the clause in the oath taken by members of the Legislature ; they 
swear that they believe one of her doctrines to be in practice idolatrous, 
not that her whole system is idolatry. 

But now admitting, for the sake of argument, that Popery is idolatry 
in Mr. Faber's sense of the term, still his conclusion, that the Catholic 
Claims cannot be granted without sin, would not follow from this ad- 
mission. Indeed the conclusion in his two first Letters is throughout 
assumed, without even an a tempt to prove it ; and it is only in his third 
Letter, when some friend had reminded him of this omission, that he 
endeavours to make out his case. He first of all appeals to the Old 
Testament, '* in which an union of any description with idolatry it 
clearly forbidden to the Israelites, on the broad and general ground, 
that such union would infallibly seduce the people into the practices of 
their associates ;" and ''the ground of this prohibition," he thinks, ''is 
of universal application ;" but as *' it may be captiously said" that the 
case of the Israelites is peculiar, he forbears to press this argumenti 
and '* turns forthwith to the New Testament." 


If I wished to avoid replying to any part of Mr, Faber's statement, I 
might content myself with observing, that the argument from the Old 
Testament is one which he does not himself press, although he still as- 
serts that it is of universal application." But his admirers will per- 
haps believe his assertion, although he does not urge the proof of it ; 
and if they are candid, I ought not to leave them in error without at- 
tempting to lead them out of it. Now amongst the Jews, idolatry was 
a capital crime ; and every one who was guilty of it was forthwith to 
be put to death. This was also ordered on the general principle, lest 
the Israelites should be seduced by evil example. Would Mr. Faber 
recommend this method of settling the Catholic Question, by a general 
massacre of all those whom he calls idolaters, after the example of Eli- 
jah and Jehu ? The Israelites were told that the practice of idolatrous 
rites defiled the land, and union therefore was out of the question with 
those who were not even allowed to live. So that on this principle 
we should renew the scenes of 1780 ; bum all the Roman Catholic 
Chapels, and do as the mob then gladly would have done, put to death 
those who worship in them. We are already polluted, according to 
the Jewish law ; and if I may, without seeming irreverence state the 
conclusions to which Mr. Faber's reasoning leads, the curse of God 
can only be avoided by the perpetration of the most atrocious acts of 
persecution and murder. 

The truth is that the principles of the Old Testament are eternal, but 
the application of them wholly dififerent under the Jewish and under the 
Christian dispensation. When we read the 109th Psalm in our Ser- 
vice, the application of the wishes of evil there contained must 
be wholly spiritual, otherwise our very prayer will be turned into 
sin. Our " enemies" (v. 19.) are sin and Satan : for men, however 
sinful, are not to be so regarded by us, till Christ the Saviour shall 
come as Christ the Judge. Till that great day the most wicked man 
alive is our brother ; and for him as well as for us Christ has died. 
Christians indeed when formed into commonwealths may use the 
sword as the ministers of God's moral government ; that is, they may 
punish crimes against society which heathen governments may punish 
also : for the sword is committed to them not as Christians but as men. 
But Christ's spiritual government has no sword, and the arms which 
they may use as Christians are wholly spiritual. And as idolatry is a 
spiritual crime, it may be opposed by us only with spiritual weapons ; 
the penalties and restraints which we may use as men against moral 
ofienders, we may not apply as Christians against spiritual offenders 
without presumption. '* The Son of Man has not come to destroy men's 
lives but to save." 


I must now follow Mr. Faber to bis argament from the New Tecrta- 
men! : which is grounded, as one might have supposed, on the com- 
mand of the Revelation to flee out of Babylon. Here he first assumes 
that Babylon means " a principle or a community manifestly idolatrous," 
that is, idolatrous in the literal sense, as worshipping others than God. 
Now in order to fix the interpretation of the commandment to '* come 
out of Babylon," it makes some diflerence whether Babylon signifies a 
principle or a community ; because if it means the former, the " com- 
ing out of her*' must signify '' withdrawing ourselves from idolatrous 
principles :" a duty certainly which no Christian ever disputed. But 
let it signify a community, and let the '* coming out " be taken as a 
command to have no intercourse with such a community, because, as 
Mr. Faber says, *' no penal plague or excision can descend upon the 
heads of the idolaters, which must not inevitably descend also upon the 
heads of the non-idolaters, their closely intimate and voluntary asso- 
ciates." That is, when idolaters and non-idolaters live in the same 
country, the visitations of war, pestilence, and famine cannot fall on 
the one without involving the other in their suffering. The conclusion 
from which is, that we should either separate locally from the Roman 
Catholics, or make them separate from us. Does Mr. Faber mean to 
recommend that we should migrate to America, or that we should adopt 
the milder alternative of the curse of Cromwell, and shut up all the 
English and Irish Catholics together, in Connaught ? Or, to speak se- 
riously, docs he forget that we are nationally and politically associated 
with these idolaters already ? that the Irish Catholics are already our 
countrymen, that they serve in our armies, man our fleets, practice in 
our courts of law, and pay taxes to our government ? On his principle 
we should instantly banish them from amongst us : their presence must 
entail defeat on our armies, and shipwreck on our fleets ; and their 
money certainly must be an accursed thing, which will bring down a 
judgment on us if we receive it. If this be his meaning, it would at 
least be honest. But to receive benefits from the society of idolaters, 
and yet to exclaim against the pollution of it ; to get all we can from 
living with them, and only scruple about giving them any thing in re- 
turn : is something like the piety of Saul, who destroyed utterly all 
that was vile and refuse of the spoil of the Amalekites, but spared the 
best of the oxen, and of the sheep, to sacrifice unto the Lord his God 
in Gilgal, — to keep up Protestant ascendancy. 

Such are my answers to Mr. Faber's premises and his conclusion, so 
fiir indeed as I can make out what his conclusion is meant to be. My 
conclusion also shall be grounded on a precept in the New Testament, 
which, on the supposition that Catholics were idolaters, would be more 


to the purpose than the quotation about coming out of Babylon. We 
are united actually in civil society with Catholics, and the question is, 
how we are to deal with them ? Now St. Paul directs, that where 
Christians were married to unbelievers, that is, to idolaters, the Chris- 
tian husband or wife should not propose to quit his or her unbelieving 
partner. " What knowest thou," is his truly Christian question, 
" whether thou shalt save thy wife or thy husband ?" whether if you 
continue to live on affectionately with them, you may not be the means 
of converting them. But the parties thus continuing to live together, 
the terms of their union were settled not by their religious faith, but 
on principles of civil and social justice. The heathen husband must 
have had authority over his Christian wife, and must have had the su- 
preme control over the education of his children ; because natural and 
civil law declared that such were his rights as a man and as a citizen. 
So also should we be anxious to live on in peace with the Irish Catho- 
lics, as we are actually their countrymen. But this being so, our re- 
spective political rights must be decided on the universal principles of 
social and political justice, and not from the spiritual superiority which 
one party may possess over the other. Religion is not injured by our 
giving idolaters their rights as men and as citizens, but by our forget- 
ting our own duty in either joining with them spiritually, or oppressing 
them politically. 

I had purposed to make some comment upon .the tone of Mr. Faber's 
Letters, and on the assumption which runs through them, that the ad- 
vocates of concession to the Catholics are men who care little. for reli- 
gion. But instead of doing so, I have thought it better to look over my 
own answer, and carefully to erase every thing which might appear to 
be unkind or insulting in tone and expression there. Evil passions are 
never more apt to arise within us than when we are engaged in what 
we sincerely believe to be our duty ; it shews strongly our corrupted 
nature, that it is so hard to keep our motives and feelings pure^ even 
when our work is a good one. 

Mr. Fabcr's opinions I think to bo erroneous and mischievous ; and 
as such I have done my best to answer him. Whatever he may think 
of the force of the answer, I trust that he will allow my sentiments to 
be as consistent with a sincere affection for Christianity as his own : 
and that a man may advocate the Catholic claims with other arguments 
than those founded on his interests or his fears. 


[Thif Essay is extracted from the Edinbar^h Review, for September, 1826; in 
which it origmallj appeared as the critique upon a volume entitled ** Lkttirs to an ' 


We have been suspected, we know» of being unfriendly to the Church 
of England. But we are not — at least on the present occasion, i'lo 
causes which led to her great Reformation, we think indeed should 
still reform her more ; and, with the fullest sense of the general sound- 
ness of her doctrines, and the benefits which her establishment has 
conferred on the community, it is impossible to look back to the history 
of that reformation, or round to the spread of sectarianism, and the infi* 
nite changes which have since been wrought on the whole frame of 
our society, without feeling that things may then have been necessary 
which are now prejudicial — and that much might be adopted in a hur- 
ried experiment which it would be improper to retain in a mature insti* 

The subject is familiar enough in the mouths both of capable and in* 
capable talkers : — but in reality it is little in their thoughts — nor do we 
hesitate to say, that we do not know any other, of nearly equal impor- 
tance, on which the public mind is so ill informed, or to which it has 
been so little accustomed to direct a calm and scrutinizing attention, as 
the constitution of the Church of England, by law established. The 
author of the work before us is entitled therefore to our best thanks, for 
the vigorous effort which he has made to arouse this indifference, and 
to enlighten this ignorance. He has spoken out boldly, but yet tem- 
perately ; and although we are far from agreeing with all his doctrines, 
we think that both the ability and tho good spirit with which he writes 
are excellently fitted to open, with the happiest omens, that discussion 
which it is evidently his object to provoke. 

The scope and object of his book may be stated in a single sentence. 
It is, to prove that all Religious Establishments, by which one particu- 
lar form of worship is especially protected and favoured by the civil 
government, and in return is entirely subjected to its control, are at 
once contrary to the interests of religion and to those of civil society; 
that the consequences of what is called the Alliance of Church and State 


are mischievous alike to both parties ; that a State, as such, ought to be 
of no religion a< all ; and that therefore it ought not to identify itself 
with one sect, and to tolerate all others ; but to protect all, and prefer, 
and discountenance none. 

The importance, at least, of these propositions will be readily admit* 
ted — if we consider for a moment some of the many changes that 
would result from their practical adoption. In the^r^^ place, there 
would be an end of that phrase which is so familiarly used in the south- 
ern part of this island, — " the Constitution in Church and State." The 
King would no longer be the head of the Church ; he would cease to 
possess the appointment of its bishops ; nor would its faith and worship 
be any longer regulated and enforced by Act of Parliament. On the 
other hand, the ears of our Presbyterian countrymen would be no more 
scandalized by the expression of "Lords Spiritual," in the preamble of 
every statute enacted by the Legislature ; Bishops, as such, would have 
no seats in Parliament ; Test and Corporation Acts, Acts of Indemnity 
for not complying with their provisions, even the Toleration Act itself^ 
would all cease to exist ; civil penalties would no longer be annexed to 
religious offences ; while the Church, freed from its state connexion, 
might exert, without reproach or question, the undoubted privilege of 
every society, by excommunicating, or, in plain English, by expelling 
such of its members as refused to comply with its regulations. Thus far 
our picture of the changes, which would follow, on the practical adop- 
tion of his principles, would agree with that of the author himself. In 
some respects, to which we shall allude hereafter, it would indeed em- 
brace some points which he is not inclined to comprehend in it : — but 
even, according to his own view, the consequence of the destruction of 
the Church Establishment must be allowed to be of no mean impor- 
tance, whether for good or for evil. 

But what, it will be asked, are the mischiefs of the existing state of 
things, which make, in the author's opinion, a change of such magni- 
tude desirable ? His answer is, that they are of a twofold nature — both 
spiritual and temporal : — that it is absolutely contrary to the commands 
of Christ, and to the whole spirit of his institution, and practically most 
injurious to the purity of his religion, cither to receive the assistance of 
the civil power to uphold the Gospel, or to submit to its authority in the 
government and internal regulation of the Church: — and that it is po- 
litically injurious, by necessarily creating disaffection to the State in 
all those who dissent from the Established Church ; and by introducing 
a system of pains and pen<ilties, and civil disqualifications, against per* 
sons guilty of no civil crime, but only differing in religious opinion. 

Now, as to the unlawfiiljieeB and mischief of enforcing spiritual cen- 
sures, propagating religious truths, or punishing religious errors, by 
temporal pains and penalties, we cordially agree with our author. 
These things are contrary to the spirit of Christianity ; which, though 
far from viewing it as a matter of indifference, whether men's opinions 
on the highest of all subjects are right or wrong, has yet wisely di« 
rected, that for such points they shall be tried only by Him who can- 
not err ; partly, we may venture to imagine, from the danger of mis- 
taking truth for error, and error for truth, amidst the fallibity of hu- 
man judgments ; and much more, because the degree of blame attach- 
ing to the holder of a false opinion is a question utterly beyond the 
reach of man to determine. To what extent the prejudices of educa- 
tion or of habit may have darkened the mind, what secret immoral bias 
may have indisposed it to truth, or what criminal negligence may have 
made it omit the proper means of discovering it, are amongst the se- 
crets of the human heart, which are only known to him who made it ; 
and yet, without a knowledge of these, how is it possible to determine 
when error is justly punishable ? Or, again, with regard to that immo- 
rality of life which is noticed by spiritual censures, it has been the 
general practice of legislators to consider much of the evil of human 
conduct as lying out of their jurisdiction ; and none but fanciful and 
inexperienced men have ever attempted to remove the more delicate 
and internal disorders of the moral constitution, by the coarse instru* 
ment of legal penalties. The Christian religion, far from condemning 
this forbearance, tends rather to confirm it. As addressing the con- 
sciences of individuals, it does indeed dwell most strongly on the sin- 
fulness of every evil thought, wordier action ; — but, lest any should mis- 
takenly conclude, that while insisting on the guilt of these things, it 
meant to point them out as fit objects of legal punishment, it has ex* 
pressly divested itself of all temporal sanctions ; and has so clearly 
refused to extend the province of the magistrate to things hitherto ndt 
within his jurisdiction, that the Quakers, as is well known, suppose 
that it designed even to narrow it, and to forbid temporal punishments 
even for those offences which had been always held justly liable to 
them. So far, therefore, as the author means to say, that all civU pe- 
nalties are improperly applied to merely religious offences^ we assent 
entirely to what he has said in the following spirited passage : — 

^*' The Church of Rome has persecuted the most bitterly, and for the 
greatest length of time, chiefly because she has had the most, and the 
longest continued poioer to do so, and has existed during the ages of the 
greatest blindness, and ignorance, and barbarism; and it has been 
urged, that the right, and even the duty of persecution is one of her 

216 TRB cuimcH or bnoland. 

most fundamental articles of faith. But what Protestant Church has 
ever, as a body, expressly renounced that right 1 The Inquisition is a 
most horrible tribunal ; and it is one well accommodated, I confess, to the 
genius of the Romish persuasion ; but it is no necessary part of Popery ; 
and why should it not exist in a Protestant country ? What disclaimer, 
for instance, is there in the articles of the English Church, of all right to 
erect or to sanction such a tribunal ? What denial of all authority in 
Christian princes to restrain religious offences by the civil sword ? It 
is notorious that persecution even of the severest kind, did take place 
under the Reformers, both in Britain and in other countries. The pe- 
nalties, indeed, for religious offences were before long greatly mitigated^ 
and in successive ages were more and more lightened ; but the ques- 
tion now before us is, not respecting the severity exercised in any in- 
stance, but the usurpation committed. If the civil magistrate have no 
rightful jurisdiction whatever in religious concerns, it is quite as much 
an act of injustice, though of far less cruelty, to fine a Socinian as to 
burn him. If, therefore, the abolition of capital, and of all excessively 
cruel punishments, for religious offences, had been the result of a cor- 
rect view of the character of Christ's kingdom— of the distinct pro- 
vinces of civil government and religion, — then of course all those pun- 
ishments, all exercise of secular authority in such matters would have 
been abolished at the same time, and would not only have been in prac- 
tice actually abolished and withdrawn, but would have been pronounced 
to have been in principle all along utterly unjustifiable. The legisla* 
ture would not only have/orftome the exercise of any such interference, 
but would have disclaimed and protested against any right in any one 
to exercise it : whereas, the very passing of an act to repeal an act of 
this description, implies, that however inexpedient the legislature may 
consider it, they yet regard it as valid and regular till repealed, not as 
null and void all along ; and yet, one who acknowledges Christ, and 
recognizes the true character and the rights of his kingdom, must ac- 
knowledge that the British King and Parliament have no more right 
to make or enforce laws for the government of Christ's kingdom— ^or 
the regulation, that is, of Christians in their spiritual concerns — than 
the Bishop of Rome, or the Emperor of Russia has, to make laws for 
the inhabitants of Great Britain. And I need hardly add, that as no 
secular coercion can properly be employed towards those who are the 
subjects of Christ's kingdom, considered as such, t. e., in religious mat- 
ters, so it would be utterly inconsistent with such a principle to employ 
force to bring into Christ's kingdom such as are not subjects of it — ^Pa- 
gans and Intidels. To persecute men (as the Infidel Jews and Hca* 
thens did) for being Christians, is a violation of the law of natural mo* 

OF aifVLAink 217 

roZffy, which dictates that no man sfaonid he ponished hy the civil i 
gtslrate, for any thing which is no oflfence against civil society ; to pw* 
secate men for noi being Christians, or for not being orthodox Chris- 
tians, is, besides this, a violation also of ^he law of the kingdom ofCkriMf 
who forbade the use of violent means in his caose." 

But we have seen that the author of the Letters objects as strongly 
to the power exercised by the State in governing and controlling the 
Church, as to that exerted in behalf of the Church, in punidiing here* 
tics, unbelievers, and excommunicated persons with the civil sword. 
He insists on the profanation which religion must undergo by being 
made subservient to secular interests, and employed, as it so often has 
been, as an engine of State policy. Warburton, in his well-known 
Treatise on the '* Alliance of Church and State," had mentioned, among 
the advantages of this alliance, that ** there are peculiar conjunctures 
when the influence of religion is more than ordinarily serviceable to the 
State, which the magistrate cannot so well improve to the public ad* 
vantage, unless he have the Church under his direction, to prescribe 
such public exercises of religion as the exigencies of the State require." 
On this curious argument, (he author of the Letters remarks, with equal 
force and justice : — 

'* In plain English, the magistrate may prescribe Te Deum and Fasts, 
whenever it suits his purposes,— engage Christian ministers to preach 
down his political opponents, — obtain acquiescence in his measures, just 
or unjust, on pain of damnation, — and hurl against his enemies the ter* 
rors of the next world in addition to those of the sword. Belshazzar's 
profanation of the sacred vessels of the Temple at an idolatrous feast, 
was nothing to this ! One would think the good bishop had forgotten on 
which side he was writing. If any one be convinced, by such an ar- 
gument, of any thing but the danger to Christ's religion, by placing it 
thus under the control of the civil governor, I can devise no process of 
reasoning that is likely to undeceive him." 

Nor does he omit to notice the particular '* State Prayers " and ** State 
Festivals," which are enjoined in the Church of England : — 

" The regular appointed prayers for the long life of the King, stand 
in strange contrast, methinks, with the setting aside for a solemn 
thanksgiving (as you are sure, in the regular course of things, must be 
done,) the day of his death, i, e., the day on which his successor will 
begin to reign. It might be suspected not without a show of reasmi, 
that if King William, instead of safely landing his forces on the 6th of 
November, had been on that day drowned in a storm, you would have 
been at this time solemnly celebrating that event, and repeating a form 
of thanksgiving to Almighty God, for having a second time, on that 



day, overthrown io a miraculous manner, a wicked and treasonable at- 
tempt on the Royal House of Stuart. This, I say, might have been sus- 
pected, even had the Church been in all such cases left to her own dis- 
cretion ; but the suspicion amounts almost to a certainty, when it is 
considered that all these things are dictated by those in power for the 
time being." 

To the same subject belongs his complaint of the Unalterableness of 
the Church Liturgy and Articles ; so that, as he most truly observes :— 

^' The members of the Church of England are even in a greater 
strait than the Church of Rome, whose pretence to infallibility only 
compels them to maintain, in theory ^ that each of their institutions tnas 
perfect at the time when it was established ; whereas you," he con- 
tinues, addressing himself to the members of the Church of England, 
*' have to maintain, in practice, the unerring rectitude of your own, not 
only originally, but ybr ever. They may say, this is no longer expe- 
dient ; but your institutions are like ^' the law of the Medes and Per- 
sians, which altereth not," even after two or three centuries. For you 
cannot alter anything tcithmU the cooperation of the civil power ; and 
with it you are too wise to take any such steps ; — lest, when once called 
in, it should do more than you would wish." 

Some very sensible remarks occur with regard to the English laws 
relating to marriages. 

~ " Marriage consists, in our view, of two things — a civil contract, 
which makes the offspring legitimate in the eye of the law, and involves 
temporal obligations, and a vow before God. Now, with respect to 
the first, it ought to be competent to persons of all persuasions to form 
the civil contract, without any violence to their religious principles, 
however erroneous, and without any interference with religious rites 
whatever. Oliver Cromwell was right, for once, in causing this civil 
contract to be made before the civil magistrate. Neither Jews, nor 
Turks, nor Christians, can object to this, if they choose to live under 
the laws of the land. The magistrate, therefore, ought to certify and 
register the due contraction of this engagement. But as for the reli- 
gious rite, that should be left to the religious community to which each 
person belongs. I cannot but think in the case, for instance, of the 
Unitarians, that there is both a species of persecution and of profana- 
tion committed. I need not tell you that I abhor the faith of the Uni- 
tarians ; — so I do that of the infidel Jews and Mahometans ; — but I 
think that none of these should be compelled, in order to contract a 
marriage, to be witnesses and partakers of a ceremony which their 
conscience condemns ; and it is, under these circumstances, a degra- 
dation of the minister, and a profanation <^ the ceremony, that it 


shoald take place. * * * But many of the Englidi clergy seem to thinky 
with Paley, that the solemnization of a marriage by a Justice of the 
Peace, (though without forbidding any previous or subsequent religious 
ceremony which the consciences of the parties might dictate,) was cal- 
culated to degrade the clergy. They stickle for their exclusive right 
of solemnizing marriage between those who think the ceremony blaa« 
phemous, and who blaspheme the doctrines implied in it ! One has 
scarcely patience with men who thus perversely glory in degradation. 
They remind me in many points of the dog in the fable, who mistook 
the clog round his neck for a badge of honorable distinction." 

What has been done, and what is likely to be done hereafter, with 
regard to the disgraceful state of things here alluded to, affords a fair 
sample of the pertinacity with which a certain party successfully de- 
fend every abuse in the ecclesiastical institutions of England. Once 
and again have the Unitarians petitioned Parliament to be allowed the 
indulgence actually enjoyed by the Jews and Quakers, that of legally 
solemnizing their own marriages, without employing the ministers or 
the ritual of the English Established Church. Once and again have 
their petitions been rejected ! One learned prelate is reported to have 
said, that he would not give them credit for any scruples of conscience 
about the matter ! And Parliament itself seemed to be of opinion, that 
it was better that their consciences should suffer violence, than that 
the venerable rust which, during two centuries and a half, has incrust- 
ed the institutions of the Church should be injured by any profane at- 
tempts to purify them. So the question rests for the present. But as 
the Unitarians will probably persevere, their individual complaint is 
likely in time to be listened to ; and, in the usual comprehensive spirit 
of our legislation, we shall have a sort o£ privilegium enacted, to redress 
that particular grievance — the enemies of reform gladly yielding thus 
far, in order to obviate a more alarming evil, the removal of abuses by 
a general law founded on the plain principles of wisdom and justice. 
Nor is their policy a bad one ; for, amidst the prevailing selfishness of 
mankind, general principles have little chance of finding an advocatci 
when once individual interests are satisfied. 

In addition to the injury thus sustained by the Church, from their 
undue exercises of authority on the part of the State, the author of the 
Letters maintains that the State suffers in its turn. On this point 
his remarks are extremely ingenious, and substantially just ; at least, 
they are quite sufficient to show that an Established Church, which is 
objectionable in many of its practices, and' exclusive in its terms of 
communion) is necessarily a dead weight on the shoulders of any go- 


vernment which supports it. Warburton had quoted these words from 
the Icon Basilike : — 

" Touching the government by Bishops, the common jealousie hath 
been, that I am earnest and resolute to maintain it, not so much out of 
piety, as poHcy and reasons of state. Wherein so far indeed reason of 
state doth induce me to approve that government above any other, as I 
find it impossible for a prince to preserve the state in quiet, unless he 
have such an influence upon churchmen, and they such a dependence 
on him, as may best restrain the seditious exorbitances of ministers' 
tongues, who, with the keys of heaven, have so far the keys of the 
people's hearts, as they prevail much by their oratory to let in or shut 
out both peace and loyalty." 

Upon this the author of the Letters proceeds. *' Now the magis- 
trate, by admitting and excluding to the exercise of their function such 
ministers as he thinks fit, has certainly a great control over the mem- 
hers of that church which he so governs ; but what influence will this 
give him over Dissenters ? Their ministers will have all that independ- 
ent influence over their flocks, from which he dreads such danger to 
the State. But why should it be expected that this influence should 
be exerted in hostility to the existing government ? I see no reason 
to apprehend this as long as the Church is left in its original^ inde- 
pendent condition ; but as soon as the' civil magistrate identifies him- 
self with the Church, to which Dissenters are necessarily opposed, by 
making himself the head of their adversaries, he himself makes them 
his enemies." The alliance of Church and State, necessarily drives 
the enemies of the Church to be enemies of the State likewise ; and 
thus occasions the very evil from which it professes to secure us. 
This is no imaginary case. Experience has shown that the religion of 
the Presbyterians is not necessarily hostile to the British constitution ; 
but the blow which it aimed at the Church of England, in the reign 
of Charles I., necessarily passed through the sides of the regal power, 
because the regal power stood before it as an ally. Being the natural 
enemies of the Church, they were made enemies of the State ; and it 
is possible they might not have resorted to violent means, had the 
Church possessed no coercive power, but might have been content to 
employ arguments, when arguments alone were opposed to them. At 
any rate, they would have had no excuse for so acting ; but when the 
Church is endued with coercive power, she loses her privilege, and 
must expect that coercive power will be employed against her. " Put 
up thy sword into its sheath ; for all they that take the susord shaU per- 
ish by the sword,^* 

If therefore the magistrate would eflTectaally preclade* instead of in- 


creasing the danger in queatiooy he mast do his work thoroughly ; he 
must not only prohibit but completely eztirpatOi by a vigorous perse- 
cution, all religions except the one established. Half measures gene- 
rally defeat both the objects they aim at. *' Dismiss your prisoners 
without ransom,'' said the old Samnite to Pontius, the general who had 
captured a Roman army ; ^^ if this does not please you, kill them all ; 
and take away either their will, or their power to hurt you." Instead 
of this, he made them pass under the yoke, and dismissed them ardent 
and implacable foes. 

These evils in the existing state of things, with some others which 
we have not room to notice, induce the author of the Letters to wish 
for a total change of system. The alteration which he proposes is in- 
deed sufficiently simple ; he would remedy the mischiefs which he la- 
ments, by entirely dissolving the connection between the State and 
the Church. The Church should regulate its own concerns with the 
same freedom that is enjoyed by the Universities, and should ask of 
the State no other favour than that protection which a government is 
bound to grant to every class of its subjects. But, it may be asked, 
does the author seriously think that the Church will ever be persuaded 
to pay the necessary price for obtaining this freedom ? His answer is, 
that she has paid the price for it already ; that from the moment the 
State consented to tolerate Dissenters, he terms of the alliance be- 
tween it and the Church were broken, and that the Church may now, in 
all fairness, pack up its goods and chattels, and remove to some freer 
station, where it may enjoy them, without being subject to any controL 

That such a prospect is no more than the dream of a warm imagina- 
tion, the author himself, we suspect, must be fully aware. He cannot 
possibly expect that any class of the State's servants will be allowed to 
resign their commissions, and yet to retain the full pay and emoluments 
of active service. If they talk of the profanation of being governed 
by secular authority, the civil power may well reply to them, in the 
words of the Bmperor Frederick the First, *' Episcoporum ego quidem 
non afiecto hominium — si tamen eos, de nostris regalibus, nil delectat 
habere. Qui si gratanter audierint. Quid tibi et Regi ? consequenter 
quoque ab Imperatore non pigeat audire, Quid tibi et possessioni ?" 

But the author of the Letters denies that the clergy are to be con- 
sidered as the servants of the State, or that they depend upon that 
character for their emoluments. '^How the Church of England," he 
says, '^ came into possession of that property which her officers now 
hold, is an inquiry which may serve to amuse those who delight in an- 
tiquarian researches ; but it is not relevant to the present question. 
The actual right of the Church to her property ia foondedi (like that of 


individuals to theirs) in Possession.^ The shallowness of this, how- 
ever, is obvious. Possession may do much for individuals ; but when 
it is pleaded in behalf of an order, the question must always be, by 
what titles and what authority that order is constituted. ^ The right 
of the Church to her property," says the author, — ^but of what Church? 
Of the Church of England ? But is it not plain, that from the moment 
that the national establishment is dissolved, there must cease to be any 
Church of England ? Who ever heard of the Church of the United 
States of America ? There might be an Episcopal Church of the Thir- 
ty-nine Articles in England ; but on what grounds such a society, 
however learned and respectable, could pretend to claim property pro- 
vided only for the National Church of England, we must leave to others 
to discover. 

But let us suppose, for an instant, that the Episcopalians of the 
Thirty-nine Articles were suffered to usurp the property of the National 
Church, is the constitution of their sect, for such it would then become, 
calculated to hold out any reasonable hope of its reforming itself, when 
released from the control of Parliament ? We rather think, that as 
soon as it was no longer supported by the laws made by Parliament 
for its direction, it would instantly fall to pieces. For where would 
the power of legislating for it exist ? In the two houses of Convoca- 
tion ? or in the Synods of the provinces of Canterbury and York ? 
Or would the Bishops assemble to hold a new Provincial Council ? 
Any of these authorities might indeed fully represent the clergy ; but 
all would be very unfit, in the present times, to legislate for the Church ; 
of which, as Burke most truly observes, •• the Laity is as much an es- 
sential integral part, and has as much its duties and its privileges, as 
the clerical member." Or does the author of the Letters believe, that 
the clergy, already secure of the enjoyment of their revenues, would 
consent to the formation of a General Assembly, like that of the 
Church of Scotland, and thus, in some measure, restore the Church to 
the freedom of its original constitution ? Highly as we respect many 
of their number, we are greatly mistaken, if they would not, as a body, 
shrink with horror from any such proposal. What between real con- 
scientious scruples, and that love of power common to all men, and 
from which the clergy assuredly have not been more exempt than the 
rest of mankind, we believe that they would never allow the lay mem- 
bers of their Church to assist in the revision of its liturgy and articles, 
or to claim their just share in the general management of its concerns. 

There are some, however, to whom, instead of an objection, it would 
be a chief motive for pressing what the author calls the Kmancipation 
of the Church — that, in such an emancipation! the alienation of the 

THS osntoH OF WKQuan. ttS 

Church raveiiiiM it necessarily involred* These persons do not wUi to 
see the Ecclesiastical Establishment reformed, but utterly overthrown ; 
and its abuses answer their purposes as tending to make the existing 
system unpopular. To us, on the contrary, it appears a resource of 
the highest value, that so large a mass of property is set apart by the 
actual laws of England, for the promotion of the physical and moral 
good of the people, by means so well calculated to effect it. We 
would call upon Parliament not to interfere with so benevolent an 
object, but to strive to realize it ; — to make the Church in practice 
what it is in theory; — ^to be bold and decisive in reforming, bat 
above all things, to shrink from subverting the institution of a regu- 
larly endowed parochial clergy. It is no ordinary national benefit, to 
have a number of well-educated men dispersed over every part of the 
kingdom, whose especial business it is to keep up and enforce the 
knowledge of those most exalted truths which relate to the duties of 
man, and to his ultimate destiny ; and who, besides, have a sort of gen- 
eral commission to promote the good of those among whom they are 
settled, in every possible manner ; to relieve sickness and poverty, to 
comfort affliction, to counsel ignorance, to compose quarrels, to soften 
all violent and uncharitable feelings, and to reprove and discounte- 
nance vice. This, we say, is the theory of the business of a parochial 
clergy. That the practice should always come up to it, it would be ut- 
ter folly to assert, or to expect ; but such is the innate excellence of 
Christianity, that even now, amidst all the imperfections of the exist- 
ing Establishment, its salutary effects are clearly felt ; and in those 
numerous parishes, in different parts of England, in which there is no 
gentleman resident, the benefits of securing the residence of a well- 
educated man, with no other trade but that of doing good to the minds 
and bodies of his neighbours, are almost incalculable. It should be re- 
membered, too, that it is one natural but most unfortunate effect of the 
English Poor-Laws, to generate harsh and unkindly feelings between 
the laboring classes and the farmers, by whom, in agricultural parishes, 
the greatest portion of the Poor-rates is paid. In many places, there- 
fore, the clergyman stands, as it were, as a mediator between the poor 
and their richer neighbours, inclined to protect and relieve the one, 
from the beneficent spirit of his profession, yet enough connected with 
the other, by his own rank in society and habits of life, as to be unapt 
to encourage an idle and profligate pauperism. 

There are other' points, too, which might be mentioned, and which 
are not unworthy of the notice of an enlightened statesman. In retired 
parishes, the family of the clergyman is often a little centre of civiliza- 
tion, from which gleams of refinement of manners, of neatness, of taste, 


as well as of science and general literature, are diffused through dis- 
tricts into which they would otherwise never penetrate. And be it ob- 
served, that these are the very parts of the country which nothing but 
an endowed parochial clergy could regularly and permanently influ- 
ence. In large towns, indeed, and in wealthy and populous districts, 
the unpaid zeal of individuals might often supply the place of a minis- 
ter, appointed and maintained by public authority. But in remote 
country parishes, where there are no inhabitants but farmers, and one 
or two small shop-keepers, besides the population of day laborers, it 
would most commonly be impossible to find an individual willing or 
qualified to undertake such high and important duties. Such districts 
would at -the best receive only occasional visitations from some itine- 
rant instructor, who certainly could ill confer all those various bene- 
fits, temporal and spiritual, which might be derived from a resident 
minister of only equal zeal and capacity. 

These are the objects for which toe desire to retain a religious Es- 
tablishment ; and which we would steadily keep in view as our best 
guide while reforming the actual institutions of the Church of Eng- 
land. It is evidently most desirable, that the Church should be com- 
pletely identified with the people ; that it should not only be uncorrupt, 
but should be generally acknowledged to be so ; that while its terms of 
Communion were made as comprehensive as possible, so as to include 
conscientious members of almost every denomination of Christians, it 
should be most uncompromising in the standard of moral excellence, to 
which it required its ministers to conform ; and should watch over 
their previous education as well as their subsequent course of life, with 
the most zealous care. The reforms which we desire, would remove 
the evils so well represented by the author of the work before us, with- 
out involving the total destruction of the establishment, like the 
changes which he himself proposes. Briefly, then, but not heedlessly, 
we proceed to notice some points in the actual constitution of the 
English Church, which our very remoteness from its sphere of action 
has enabled us perhaps to observe more calmly, and to judge more im- 

I. The Church of England is unpopular. It is connected with the 
Crown and the Aristocracy ; but it is not regarded with afiection by 
the mass of the people ; and this circumstance greatly lessens its utility, 
and has powerfully contributed to multiply the number of Dissenters. 
To this day it feels the eflects of the peculiar conjuncture at which 
it was established. It was the child of the Civil Government, when 
that Government was a Despotism ; and it learnt to echo the language 
and to copy the arbitrary proceedings of its patrons, till it shared with 


them the indignrntioii of the people, and fell with them in one common 
overthrow. Thus the Church has never thoroughly harmonized with 
the popular part of our Constitution ; and we have been oAen amused 
by observing the soreness with which some English clergymen still 
speak of the House of Commons and its Committees— as if the terrors 
<^the long Parliament were still haunting their memories. This noto- 
rious spirit of Tor3rism would of itself tend to alienate the affections of 
the people from the clergy as a body ; but other causes have combined 
to aggravate the mischief. The system of Church patronage, for in- 
stance, while it makes many of the clergy directly dependent upon the 
rich and the great, makes all of them independent of popular favour ; 
and their course of life keeps them somewhat remote from the contact 
of public opinion. Again, the rank which the English clergy hold in 
society is often prejudicial to their influence with the poor. Birtht 
habit and education, have identified them with the higher orders ; they 
share their feelings, and enjoy their pleasures ; and they sometimes 
are ignorant, from mere inexperience, of the language and manner 
which are most intelligible to the common people, and most readily find 
the way to their hearts. Hence has arisen the peculiar unpopularity 
of their style and manner of preaching. It trembles to offend a culti- 
vat|d taste and a critical judgment ; it is generally, therefore, free from 
gross extravagances, but is, beyond all other preaching, tame, and un- 
impressive to uneducated minds. The same character prevails in their 
writings ; their tracts intended for circulation amongst the poor, are 
mostly stiff, and have about them an air of lecturing and prosing, like 
that of a condescending superior, addressing readers almost of a differ- 
ent species from himself. 

Other causes have their weight with the middling classes of society 
in indisposing them to the existing establishment. The great incomes 
and the pluralities enjoyed by the higher clergy cannot but appear 
excessive ; the difficulty of procuring places of worship, and ministers 
of the Established Church, to meet the increased population of the 
country in large towns and in manufacturing districts, argues some* 
thing deficient in its actual constitution; and wherever the blame 
aught most to fall, the general impression is unfavourable to the Church 
from the feelingy that while it absorbs a large part of the revenue of 
the country, it does not sufficiently perform its work. The old laws 
against Conventicles, and the inflexible strictness with which the ser- 
vice of the Church is confined to the prescribed forms of the Liturgy, 
place its ministers also at a disadvantage, when opposed to the unfet* 
tered and flexible activity of the Dissenters. Whilst any other Chris- 
tian teacher may address an audience wherever he can find one, and 


in the language which he may judge most appropriate to the occasion, 
a clergyman of the Establishment may preach only within the walls of 
his parish church ; nay, he may not preach there, unless he choose also 
to read the morning or evening prayer at the same time — a regulation 
which makes it impossible to open the churches to any purpose in 
country parishes, on any other day than Sunday. We are not now 
discussing the propriety or impropriety of these and similar regulations ; 
we are only asserting, that they tend to make the Church less popular 
than we wish it to be ; and when it is notorious that no steps have 
been taken for the last two centuries to amend or improve its institu- 
tions, it is not unnatural that it should be taxed with indolence and in- 
difference, and with thinking more of its dignity than of its duties. 

11. Unpopularity, however, is not always a sure criterion of demerit ; 
but we have now to notice some things in the present state of the 
Church, which are bad in themselves, independent of any effect which 
they may produce on public opinion. The Church of England is ex- 
clusive ; and has in many instances provoked the separations from itt 
which it affects at once to lament and to condemn. This, in a na- 
tional Church, is no light evil ; inasmuch as it deprives a large portion 
of the people of the benefits of some most important public institu- 
tions ; and, so far as the Government is the supporter of the Chqrohy 
it makes a number of persons dissatisfied and discontented with the 
Government also. To be a public minister of religion must be an of- 
fice sought after by some of the purest and best men in the country ; 
and it is to be lamented that any of this description should, without the 
clearest necessity, be forbidden to aspire to it. Nor can those who 
most admire the public schools and universities of England, represent 
it very consistently as no grievance to be excluded from all participa- 
tion in their benefits. 

But the Church of England has been apt to congratulate itself on 
its tolerant and liberal spirit, because it does not ask for the direct in- 
fliction of pains and penalties upon Dissenters, nor that they should be 
deprived of the liberty of forming distinct societies of their own. No 
doubt, this is liberality, when compared with the conduct of the Church 
in former times. It is a wonderful improvement on the persecutions 
of Parker and Whitgift, on the language of the Canons of 1603,* and 

• We might quote, in proof of this, every one of the twelve Canonf of the very 
first chapter or division, entitled, " De Ecclesift Anglican^,** all of which denounce 
excommunication, ipso facto, on persons maintaining the several opinions there con- 
demned. And if we turn to the 6ath Cemon, we shall find that the Church earnestly 
desired to see its excommunications enforced by the civil magistrate's writ " De Ex* 
communicato capiendo," by which the person of the oflfender was consigned to pri- 
son. It should be particularly observed, that the 5th Canon condenmB to ezcommu- 

the S3mod8 of 1640.* It is certainly len odious in a government 
to allow those who complain of its tyranny to emigrate peaceably, 
than to shut up every door against their escape, and then to subject 
them to fine, imprisonment, and death! But if we were to see 
nearly half the inhabitants of any country preferring a vduntary 
banishment to a longer abode in their native land, we should not be 
much inclined to hold up the government of such a nation as a pattern 
of mildness and liberality. And here it seems to us, that the author of 
the Letters has done the civil power injustice, when he complains of 
its imposing a Liturgy and Articles upon the Church by its secular au- 
thority. On the contrary, the error of the civil power in England has 
been to receive and sanction, much too passively, the Articles which 
the Clergy have tendered to its acceptance. • When the House of Com- 
mons, in the reign of Elizabeth, delayed for some time to pass the Act 
to legalize the Articles of Religion submitted to them by the BiBhope, 
Archbishop Parker expressed his displeasure at this hesitation, as if re- 
ligion were a matter in which they had no right to exercise their own 
freedom of judgment. Nor can it be doubted that Parliament, at al- 
most any period of our history since the Reformation, would have rea- 
dily consented to any alterations in matters purely spiritual, which the 
Bishops and the great body of the clergy might have recommended to 
be made. We repeat, therefore, that the needless multiplication of 
terms of conformity, which has caused so large a portion of the people 
to dissent from the Church of England, is principally, and almost en- 
tirely the fault of the clergy ; and that the civil power is only to be 
blamed for sanctioning too negligently whatever they thought proper 
to frame. 

nication all those who should aflirm that arty one of the 39 Articles was, in any part 
erroneous ! Could the Pope himself have done more 7 

* These Synods were held at London and York, and consifited of the Bishops and 
clergy of hoth provinces— of Canterbary and York. Their Canons are 17 in num> 
ber, and subjoined to them is the royal assent, fully approvin^r and ratifyin^r all their 
provisions. The third Canon is directed against Popery ; and, amongst other things, 
it strictly ei^oins that the children of Popish recusants shall be brought up by Church 
of England schoolmasters, in the doctrine of the Church of England, notwithstand- 
ing the prohibition of their parents; and if the parents should then take away the 
children from the school, their names should be given up to the Bishop of the dioceie, 
who was to return them to the Judges at the Assizes, to be punished according to 
the Statutes. And the fifth Canon specially makes all the penalties and proceeding! 
enacted against the Roman Catholics applicable to all Protestant Dissenters, or to 
any persons who should refuse or neglect to attend their parish churches for the qwce 
of a month, without some lawful impediment. 

These detestable provisions are to be found in a collection of the Articles, Canons, 
Orders, &c. of the Church of England, published by Sparrow in 1671, with the ob- 
ject, as his declares, ** to vindicate the Church of England,** 


But it is conteDded, that, in a National Church, there must he one 
uniform doctrine taught, and one form of worship universally enjoined. 
We are far from meaning to enter into a theological discussion, which 
would be the most unfitted to these pages ; but we may still observe, that 
the essential articles of Christianity are allowed on all hands to be few, 
and on these all denominations of Christians, with one exception, are 
agreed ; that although some violent spirits might insist on enforcing 
their own peculiar notions, even on points which they allowed to be of 
subordinate importance, yet that many would see the reasonableness 
of forbearing to teach such doctrines, so long as they were permitted 
freely to acknowledge their belief of them ; that on matters of Church 
government, disputes have been mainly engendered by the intermix- 
ture of something not essentially connected with the question ; as for 
example, the inveteracy of our forefathers against Episcopacy, arose 
chiefly out of its connexion with Prelacy ; because Bishops happened 
accidentally to be invested with great temporal power and splendour, 
and, instead of being chosen by other Bishops, and with the consent of 
the clergy and people, were merely nominated by the Crown ; and 
that thus institutions, which in their corrupted state were rejected with 
abhorrence, might, when stript of these additions, be admitted without 
scruple ; we should not hesitate also to say, that the fancied inconve- 
nience of having the pulpits filled at different times with men of differ- 
ent opinions, is greatly overrated ; that in point of fact they arCy and 
ever must be so filled ; for no articles of religion can ever embrace all, 
or a hundredth part of the topics which are discussed in public preach- 
ing : and that the uniformity which subscription ensures, is much less 
important than that discordance, which it cannot prevent, in the tone 
of mind, in the moral opinions, nay in the very earnestness and serious- 
ness of different ministers ; so that the preaching of two men, both 
conscientiously subscribing to the same Confession of Faith, may lead 
their respective hearers to the most dissimilar views of religious duty ; 
that indecent and personal controversy in the pulpit may be restrained 
by the proper authorities; but that the mere expression of different opin- 
ions on unessential points can produce no evil, so long as it is known 
that one good man will yet unavoidably differ in many of his senti- 
ments and views of things from another, and that the agreement of 
men, so differing, in the main articles of Christian doctrine, is rather a 
satisfactory confirmation of their truth* 

III. The government and external constitution of the Church of 
England are full of abuses, and bear divers marks of the mistaken no- 
tions and extreme misgovernment of the times in which they were 
formed, and of those which neglected to amend them. It may never 

have occurred to some of our readers that the Greek word which we 
translate ''church," ^SnnXifa$ct^ was the peculiar term used to denote the 
general assembly of the people in the old democracies ; that it essen- 
tially expresses a ** popularly constituted meeting ;" and that such, in 
great measure, was the original constituti<Hi of the Christian society. 
We need not say with what different associations our English version 
of it is now connected ; we need not ask what popular elements are 
left, in a body in which the people have no voice at all, either by them- 
selves or their representatives ; where the chief officers, the Bishopsi 
are appointed by the Crown, and are accountable to no one but the 
Archbishops and the Crown, for the manner in which they discharge 
their trust. Anciently, indeed, the two Houses of Convocation may 
appear to some to have formed an Ecclesiastical Parliament— to have 
been respectively the aristocratical and democratical branches of the 
Legislature of the Church. But the truth is, that these represented, 
not the Church, but the clergy ; and even in this character, the propor- 
tion which the deputies of the parochial clergy bore to those of the 
Chapters, and to the Archdeacons and other such dignitaries, in the 
Lower House of Convocation, was about the same which the represen- 
tatives of free boroughs in the House of Commons bear to those who 
are nominated hy the influence of Government or of the Aristo- 
cracy. We are far, therefore, from regretting, that the Convocation 
is become no better than a name ; but certainly, its virtual annihila* 
tion has left the mass of the members of the Church, both lay, and 
clerical, without any means of expressing their sentiments as a body ; 
and the Church now deserves as little to be called a Society, as the 
army or the navy. Its actual governors, the Bishops, appointed by the 
Crown, and out of all proportion too few for the extent and population 
of England, afford about as apt an image of primitive Episcopacy, as 
the Consuls under the Roman empire did of the consular government 
of the old commonwealth. Nominated as they now are, assisted by 
no ecclesiastical council, accountable to no general assembly of the 
Church, it were most dangerous to strengthen their powers, or even to 
wish that they should exert to the utmost those which they actually 

Then comes the system of Pluralities and of Dispensations— -the 
relics of the worst times of Popery, which the Protestant Church of 
England retains, even in the nineteenth century. One person may 
hold two benefices, if they are within forty miles of one another ; and 
the distance is always computed, not by the number of miles along the 
road, but as if the incumbent could fly with the crow, or ride on a stee- 
ple-hunt from one of his cures to the other ; to say nothing of the ab- 


surdity of fixing on such a distance as the maximum to be allowed by 
law ; for if a minister can discharge his duties in a parish forty miles 
distant from him, he may just as easily fulfil them in one that is four 
hundred. Again, those persons who have taken degrees in civil law, 
and the domestic chaplains of Noblemen, are permitted to hold two 
benefices. In the one case, this indulgence was granted to encourage 
a study which the clergy in ancient times always laboured to propa- 
gate ; but now, amid the ignorance of the civil law which prevails in 
England, and when the degree of Doctor of Laws does not necessarily 
imply an acquaintance with its simplest rudiments, its continuance is 
utterly ridiculous. In the other, it marks how little the Reformation 
in England was able to correct abuses patronized by the aristocracy ; 
while the readiness with which the friends of the Church* acquiesced 
in them shows how greatly they wanted some of the most essential 
qualities in the character of perfect reformers. We notice the num- 
ber of exempt jurisdictions, or of particular parishes, and in some in- 
stances large districts, not subject to the authority of any Bishop, 
merely as examples of evident abuses, even according to Episcopal 
principles,! and as showing again how imperfectly the Reformation in 
England was effected. 

We shall next mention the total want of any system of education, 
peculiarly fitted for those who are to become ministers of the Church. 
It is not saying too much, to say, that the public schools at which boys 

* ** For/' says Hooker, while argaing in defence of the privilegres granted to the 
chaplains of noblemen, " wo are not to dream in this case of any platform which 
bringeth equally high and low into parish churches, nor of any constraint to main- 
tain, at their own charg«, those sufficient for that purpose ; the one so repugnant to 
the majesty and greatness of English nobility; the other so improbable and unlikely 
to take effect, that they which mention either or both, seem not indeed to have con- 
ceived what either is." — Ecclesiastical Polity y Book V. J 81. 

The eloquence of Hooker has been deservedly praised ; but the justice of the epi- 
thet " Judicious," which his admirers have attached to his name, is rather more ques- 
tionable. Certainly there never was a more thorough.going advocate of things es- 
tablished, than he has shown himself in the whole Fifth Book, forming more than a 
third part of the entire Ecclesiastical Polity. 

t Most of these, we suspect, were mere jobs from their very origin. There is still 
extant a Correspondence between Richard the Third, the Pope, and the Archbishop 
of York, relative to the erection of Middleham, in Yorkshire, into a deanery, with a 
peculiar jurisdiction, mdependent of the Diocesan. Richard, when Duke of Glouces- 
ter, had resided for some time at his castle of Middleham ; and contracting a fond- 
ness for the place, he took this method of showing it ; and the Pope and the Arch, 
bishop, as might be expected from the lax principles of the Church in those days, 
seem to have made no difficulty in ctmsenting to gratify him. 


in England commonly remain till sixteen or eighteen, do not so much 
as furnish the rudiments of a clerical education. The Universities, 
again, profess to know no distinctions between the future professions of 
those who solicit academical degrees ; and they are quite right not to 
do so. They require of all who present themselves at their examina- 
tions, a certain portion of religious knowledge as Christians ; but they 
do not pretend to say that this is a sufficient qualification for Christian 
teachers. The sole provision made at the Universities for the peculiar 
instruction of those who are designed for the Church, consists in the 
Lectures of the Divinity Professors ; a certificate of having attended 
which is, we believe, always required by the Bishops, at the ordination 
of any person who has belonged to either University. It is with sin* 
cere pleasure that we bear testimony to the zealous and able exertions 
of the individual who now fills the Divinity Chair at Oxford ; as, in ad- 
dition to his public Lectures, he has formed a smaller class of students, 
who attend him voluntarily, and whom he examines as to their profi- 
ciency in such books as he has before recommended to their perusal. 
This is a practice worthy of the spirit and good sense of him who has 
first introduced it ; but be it observed that this only benefits the few. 
Attendance on these Lectures is entirely voluntary ; and we do not 
want the means of furnishing instruction for those who desire it, but 
of ensuring an adequate amount of knowledge in that far larger class, 
who will gain of their own accord the smallest quantity that will be tol- 

In other professions, interest afibrds a sufficient stimulus to industry ; 
and besides, a young man intended for the law, or for the study of medi* 
cine, has in fact, a distinct professional education to go through after 
leaving the University ; whereas a young man intended for the Church, 
and quitting College, as is commonly the case at two-and-twenty, too 
often considers his education as completed, and employs the interven- 
ing year, before he is old enough to take orders, in travelling on the 
Continent, or in refreshing himself in some way or other, after the fa- 
tigues of his academical studies. All that he must necessarily do, is to 
prepare himself for his examination by the Bishop's chaplain, previous 
to his ordination ; and if he is idle, and conscious of his own igno- 
rance, he tries to be ordained in a diocese where the chaplain has the 
reputation of not being over strict, and where he may pass the ordeal 
with little danger. For, the legal standard of the qualifications re- 
quired in a candidate for orders being fitted only to the general igno- 
rance of the Elizabethan age, every exambing chaplain is obliged to 
fix a standard of his own ; and thus a candidate, whom one Bishop 


might dismiss as utterly incompetent, may be ordained without diffi- 
culty by another. In other professions also, a man's gradual advance* 
ment is somewhat dependent on his continued exertions ; he cannot, 
at least, safely afford to remain stationary, far less to go backward in 
knowledge, after he has once commenced his career. But when a 
clergyman is once ordained priest, his qualifications are subjected to 
no further trial ; all is then left to his own sense of duty ; and it often 
happens, with careless and unprincipled individuals, than they are 
worse divines at forty than they were at four-and-twenty. In such 
cases as these, the effect, we will not say of having been educated, but 
of having passed a certain portion of time at the Universities, is no- 
thing but evil. Habits of dissipation and self-indulgence are acquired, 
and those aristocratical feelings which, in weak and vicious minds, are 
merely odious, are strongly confirmed. Thus, some of the English 
clergy are, above all other Christian ministers, unfit for their station. 
Without being superior to the humblest dissenting teachers in secular 
learning, they are incomparably inferior to them in that familiarity 
with the Scriptures, for the absence of which, in a minister of the gos- 
pel, not the greatest learning could compensate. But this is the uni- 
versal characteristic of the English system of education, that while it 
produces some individuals of the rarest excellence, its failure in unfa* 
vourable cases is most complete. 

Such, then, are the principal points in the actual state of the Church 
of England, which seems to us to demand the attention and the reform- 
ing hand of the national Legislature. No other power can undertake 
so great a work ; and to no other, in our opinion, should it ever be in* 
trusted. For, what though the State has, on some occasions, as the 
author of the Letters justly remarks, abused its sovereign authority, and 
by the appointment of State fasts and festivals has really done an inju- 
ry to the character of the Church, yet the words of Burke are here most 
applicable, that " it is not so much by the assumption of unlawful pow- 
ers, as by the unwise and unwarrantable use of those which are most 
legal that governments oppose their true end and object ; for there i« 
such a thing as tyranny as well as usurpation. So, that after all, it i« 
a moral and virtuous discretion, and not any abstract theory of right, 
wiiich keeps governments faithful to their ends."* It i« the exercise of 
this ** moral and virtuous discretion," to which we look forward with 
hope, for the purification of the Church of England from all those spots 
and stains which the State, for its own purposes, has thrown upon it, 
no less than from those which had their origin in its own negligence 
<Mr ignorance. And in our judgment, the tme friends to tlft Church 

* Speech on the Unitariui Petition, Worin, Vol. X. 8vo edit 


shoald join their exertions to procure, not its emancipation from the 
State, but its reform by the State ; as the first would involve its cer- 
tain destruction as a national institution; while from the other, both in 
this character, and as a spiritual society, it would derive at once pu- 
rity and energy. 

If, in any part of our preceding strictures, we may seem to have 
spoken too strongly, let the peculiar circumstances of the case plead our 
apology. The Government has been so long accustomed to regard the 
Church establishment as a thing not to be touched, that nothing will 
ever arouse them from this apathy but the strongest representation of 
the evils which they are neglecting to remove. On the other hand, we 
have endeavoured to treat the subject seriously and calmly, not only 
from our own sense of its importance, but to convince, if possible, the 
advocates of existing abuses, that those who wish their removal, are 
not all the enemies of religion or of religious establishments ; that they 
are neither fanatical enthusiasts, nor infidels, nor jacobins, nor hold any 
principles inconsistent with the sincerest attachment to the main doc- 
trines of Christianity, as held by the Church of England itself. We 
are not now called upon to state the particular nature and precise ex- 
tent of the reforms which we deem desirable ; our opinions, indeed, on 
this point, may be partly gathered from the list of evils which we have 
given ; but the main object at present to be accomplished, is to draw 
the public attention to the state of the Church, and to show to ever}' 
man's understanding that it ought not to be lefl as it is. Above all, we 
wish to dispel that cloud of prejudice which, on this question, besets- 
the minds of so large a portion, not of the clergy only, but of the gen- 
tlemen of England ; to expose some of those parrot-like phrases, which, 
to the disgrace of human reason, so often bind men's minds with a se- 
cret and sovereign charm. Such are the expressions which we so of- 
ten hear of the »* Constitution in Church and State," of its " venerable 
Establishment," of its "heroic Martyrs," its "pious and learned Re- 
formers," and of " the mild and tolerant spirit of its Doctrines and its 
Ministers." We call these parrot-like phrases, because, as they are 
commonly used, they are all either untrue or irrelevant. " The Con- 
stitution in Church and State !" Why, it is like the feet of the image 
in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which were made part of iron, and part of 
miry clay ; the State strong and sound, gradually perfected by the 
care of successive generations, carefully watched and continually re- 
paired ; — ^the Church patched up in a hurry three hundred years ago, 
out of elements confessedly corrupted, and ever since allowed to sub- 
sist, unlocked to and unmended, as if, like the water of the Thames, it 
would grow pure by the mere lapse of time. We would ask, who 



would wish to live under our Political Government, such as it was when 
our Church Government was established ? And if the former has re- 
quired, since that time, a series of improvements, can we believe that the 
experience and added light of three hundred years, could now add no- 
thing to the perfect excellence of the latter ? " The venerable Establish- 
ment !" We would ask, whether the venerable Cathedral Churches of 
that establishment have sustained injury from the cleaning, repairing, 
and removing of deformities, to which the taste and liberality of so many 
of our Deans and Chapters have been of late years so happily directed ? 
or whether the ornaments added in the reigns of Elizabeth and James 
the First, were all so pure and so judicious, that it would have been 
bi rbarism and folly to meddle with them ? The Church of England 
has no doubt had its " heroic martyrs ;" but so has the Church of Rome : 
and so have all Christian communions ; and besides, is it not a little 
preposterous to invoke the names of those who died in the cause of 
reformation, in aid of an argument that their example of reform should 
never be followed again ? It has had too " its pious and learned re- 
formers," and wish that it would produce some more— equal in piety, 
and superior in judgment and enlightened views, to those of the six- 
teenth century. 

A real knowledge of those times — not such a mere heap of preju- 
dices as so many pick up from Isaac Walton, and other such sources- 
would enable us to appreciate their excellences and their defects ; would 
show us that we may admire them far more safely than imitate them ; 
that though no period has produced a greater display of ability, yet that 
our additional experience of two hundred and fifty years gives us the same 
superiority of judgment over them, that many an ordinary schoolmaster 
possesses over a very clever boy ; who, if he were as old as his master, 
would in all points surpass him. Such a knowledgCi too, would enable 
us justly to appreciate the panegyrics which have been passed on the 
" mild and tolerant spirit " of the Church of England. It would tell 
us of the continued persecutions which disgraced the reign of Eliza- 
beth, and of those which added an additional brand of infamy to that 
dark period between the Restoration and the Revolution. It would 
show us, above all, that in the sixteenth century a comprehensive spirit 
of Christian charity was unknown to all parties ; and that the judgment 
even of the best men of that age, as to the number and nature of the 
points to be insisted on as terms of communion, is of very little value. 

Thus, when the merits of the Church of England are reduced to 
their just proportions, and no longer magnified to our eyes by the mists 
of our own ignorance, the faults of its institutions will appear in their 
true colours, and we shall wonder by what strange infatuation they can 

THX CH17SCH OF BlfOZJUn). 235 

hare been so long mistaken for excellences. Then it will be time to 
discuss more particularly the exact nature of the reforms best adapted 
to the state of the case : with what limitations the two grand princi- 
ples of rendering the constitution of the Church more popular and more 
effective, and of making its terms of communion more comprehensive, 
should be followed up in practice. So slowly does truth force its way, 
in opposition to existing prejudices and interests, that we dare not in- 
dulge the hope of seeing such a reform accomplished in our days. 
Yet a little impulse is sometimes sufficient to set in motion the stream 
of public opinion, which, gathering force year after year, from con- 
tinual accessions of experience and reflection, swells at last into an 
irresistible current, and sweeps away the stubbornest mudbanks of cor- 
ruption and error. 


This article comprises the IirrRODUCTioir to the Sermons on " Christian Life, iU 
Course, tto Hindranees, and its Helps,** with three illustrative Notes from the same 

'^ As far as the principle on which Archbishop Laud and his fol- 
lowers acted went to reactuate the idea of the Church, as a coordinate 
and living power bj right of Christ's institution and express promise, I 
go along with them ; but I soon discover that by the Church, they meant 
the clergy, the hierarchy exclusively, and then I fly off from them in a 
tangent. For it is this very interpretation of the Church, that, accord- 
ing to my conviction, constituted the first and fundamental apostasy ; 
and I hold it for one of the greatest mistakes of our polemic divines, in 
their controversies with the Romanists, that they trace all the corrup- 
ruptions of the gospel faith to the Papacy." — Colebidob. Literary 

Among the helps of Christian life, the highest place is due to the 
Christian Church and its ordinances. I hold the revival of the Church 
of Christ in its full perfection, to be the one great efibrt to which all 
our efforts should be directed. This belief was impressed most strongly 
upon me, by the remarkable state of affairs and of opinions in this 
country some years ago ; and everything since that time has confirmed 
it in my mind more and more. 

But the movement had begun earlier ; nor should I object to call it 
a movement towards '^ something deeper and truer than satisfied the 
last century."* It began, I suppose, in the last ten years of the last 
century, and has ever since been working onwards, though for a long 
time slowly and secretly, and with no distinctly marked direction. 
But still, in philosophy and general literature, there have been sufli- 
cient proofs that the pendulum, which for nearly two hundred years had 
been swinging one way, was now beginning to swing back again ; 
and as its last oscillation brought it far from the true centre, so it may 

• Newnum*! Letter to Dr. Jelf, p. 37. 


be, that its present impulse may be no less in excess, and thus may 
bring on again, in afler ages, another corresponding reaction. 

Now if it be asked what, setting aside the metaphor, are the two 
points between which mankind has been thus moving to and fro; 
and what are the tendencies in us which, thus alternately predominat- 
ing* give so different a character to different periods of the human 
history ; the answer is not easy to be given summarily, for the gene- 
ralization which it requires is almost beyond the compass of the human 
mind. Several phenomena appear in each period, and it would be 
easy to give any one of these as marking its tendency ; as, for in- 
stance, we might describe one period as having a tendency to despot- 
ism, and another to licentiousness : but the true answer lies deeper* 
and can be only given by discovering that common element in human 
nature which, in religion, in politics, in philosophy, and in literature, 
being modified by the subject matter of each, assumes in each a dif- 
ferent furm, 60 that its own proper nature is no longer to be recognised. 
Again, it would be an error to suppose that either of the two tendencies 
which so affect the course of human affairs were to be called simply 
bad or good. Each has its good and evil nicely intermingled ; and 
taking the highest good of each, it would be difficult to say which was 
the more excellent ; — taking the last corruption of each, we could not 
determine which was the more hateful. For so far as we can trace 
back the manifold streams, flowing some from the eastern mountains, 
and some from the western, to the highest springs from which they 
rise, we find on the one side the ideas of truth and justice, on the other 
those of beauty and love : — things so exalted, and so inseparably 
united in the divine perfections, that to set either two above the other 
were presumptuous and profane. Yet these most divine things sepa- 
rated from each other, and defiled in their passage through this lower 
world, do each assume a form in human nature of very great evil : 
the exclusive and corrupted love of truth and justice becomes in man 
selfish atheism : the exclusive and corrupted worship of beauty and love 
becomes in man a bloody and a lying idolatry. 

Such would be the general theory of the two great currents in which 
human affairs may be said to have been successively drilling. But 
real history, even the history of all mankind, and much more that of 
any particular age or country, presents a picture far more compli- 
cated. First, as to time : as the vessels in a harbour, and in the open 
sea without it, may be seen swinging with the tide at the same mo- 
ment in opposite directions ; the ebb has begun in the roadstead, while 
it is not yet high water in the harbour ; so one or more nations may 
be in advance of or behind the general tendency of their age, and 


from either cause may be moving in the opposite direction. Again, 
the tendency or movement in itself is liable to frequent interruptions, 
and short counter-movements : even when the tide is coming in upon 
the shore, every wave retires after its advance ; and he who follows 
incautiously the retreating waters, may be caught by some stronger 
billow, overwhelming again for an instant the spot which had just 
been left dry. A child standing by the sea shore for a few minutes, 
and watching this, as it seems, irregular advance and retreat of the 
water, could not tell whether it was ebb or flood : and we, standing 
for a few years on the shore of time, can scarcely tell whether the 
particular movement which we witness is according to or against the 
general tendency of the whole period. Farther yet, as these great ten- 
dencies are often interrupted, so are they continually mixed : that is, 
not only are their own good and bad elements successively predomi- 
nant, but they never have the world wholly to themselves : the opposite 
tendency exists, in an upder-current it may be, and not lightly percep- 
tible ; but here and there it struggles to the surface, and mingles its 
own good and evil with the predominant good and evil of its antago- 
nist. Wherefore he who would learn wisdom from the complex expe- 
rience of history, must question closely all its phenomena, must notice 
that which is less obvious as well as that which is most palpable, must 
judge not peremptorily or sweepingly, but with reserves and excep- 
tions ; not as lightly overunning a wide region of truth, but thankful 
if after much pains he has advanced his land-marks on a little ; if he 
has gained, as it were, but one or two frontier fortresses, in which he 
can establish himself for ever. 

Now, then, when Mr. Ne\niian describes the movement of the pre- 
sent moment as being directed towards '^ something better and deeper 
than satisfied the last " century," this description, although in some 
sense true, is yet in practice delusive ; and the delusion which lurks 
in it is at the root of the errors of Mr. Newman and of his friends. 
They regard the tendencies of the last century as wholly evil, and they 
appear to extend this feeling to the whole period of which the last cen- 
tury was the close, and which began nearly with the sixteenth century. 
Viewing in this light the last three hundred years, they regard natural- 
ly with excessive favour the preceding period with which they are so 
strongly contrasted ; and not the less because this period has been an 
object of scorn to the times which have followed it They are dra^^Ti 
towards the enemy of their enemy, and they fancy that it must be in all 
points their enemy's opposite. And if the faults of its last decline are too 
palpable to be denied, they ascend to its middle and its earlier course, 
and finding that its evils are there less flagrant, they abandon them- 


selves whollj to the contemplation of its good points, and end with 
making it an idol. There are few stranger and sadder sights than to 
see men judging of whole periods of the history of mankind with the 
blindness of party-spirit, never naming one century without expressions 
of contempt or abhorrence, never mentioning another but with extra- 
vagant and undistinguishing admiration. 

But the worst has yet to come. The period which Mr. Newman 
and his friends so disliked, had, in its religious character, been distin- 
guished by its professions of extreme veneration for the Scriptures : in 
its quarrel with the system of the preceding period it had rested all 
its cause on the authority of the Scripture, — it had condemned the 
older system because Scripture could give no warrant for it. On the 
other hand, the partizans of the older system protested against the ex- 
clusive appeal to Scripture : there was, as they maintained, another 
authority in religious matters ; if their system was not supported in all 
its points by Scripture, it had at least the warrant of Christian antiquity. 
Thus Mr. Newman and his friends found that the times which they 
disliked had professed to rely on Scripture alone ; the times which 
they loved had invested the church with equal authority. It was natu- 
ral then to connect the evils of the iron age, for so they regarded it, 
with this notion of the solo supremacy of Scripture ; and it was no less 
natural to associate the blessings of their imagined golden age with its 
avowed reverence for the Church. If they appealed only to Scripture, 
they echoed the language of men whom they abhorred ; if they exalted 
the Church and Christian antiquity, they sympathized with a period 
which they were resolved to love. Their theological writings from the 
very beginning have too plainly shown in this respect the force both of 
their sympathies and their antipathies. 

Thus previously disposed, and in their sense or apprehension of the 
evils of their own times already flying as it were for refuge to the sys- 
tem of times past, they were overtaken by the political storm of 1831, 
and the two following years. That storm rattled loudly, and alarmed 
many who had viewed the gathering of the clouds with hope and plea- 
sure ; no wonder, then, if it produced a stormy effect upon those who 
viewed it as a mere calamity, an evil monster bred out of an evil time, 
and fraught with nothing but mischief. Farther, the government of 
the country was now for the first time for many years in the hands of 
men who admired the spirit of the age nearly as much as Mr. Newman 
and his friends abhorred it. Thus all things seemed combined against 
them : the spirit of the period which they so hated was riding as it 
were upon the whirlwind ; they knew not where its violence might 
burst ; and the government of the country was, as they thought, driving 


wildly before it, without attempting to moderate its fury. Already 
they were inclined to recognise the signs of a national apostacy. 

But from this point they have themselves written their own history. 
— Mr. PercevaPs letter to the editor of the Irish Ecclesiastical Journal, 
is really a document of the highest value. It acquaints us, from the 
very best authority, with the immediate occasion of the publication of 
the Tracts for the Times, and with the objects of their writers. It 
tells us whither their eyes were turned for deliverance ; with what 
charm they hoped to allay the troubled waters. Ecclesiastical history 
would be far more valuable than it is, if we could thus learn the real 
character and views of every church, or sect, or party, from itself^ and 
not from its opponents. 

Mr. Perceval informs us, that the Irish Church Act of 1833, which 
abolished several of the Irish Bishoprics, was the immediate occasion 
of the publication of the Tracts for the Times ; and that the objects of 
that publication were, to enforce the doctrine of the apostolical suc- 
cession, and to prescribe the Prayer Book from " the Socinian leaven, 
with which we had reason to fear it would be tainted by the parlia- 
mentary alteration of it, which at that time was openly talked of." But 
the second of these objects is not mentioned in the more formal state- 
ments which Mr. Perceval gives of them ; and in what he calls the 
" matured account " of the principles of the writers, it is only said, 
"whereas, there seems great danger at present of attempts at un- 
authorized and inconsiderate innovation as in other matters so espe- 
cially in the service of our Church, we pledge ourselves to resist any 
attempt that may be made to alter the Liturgy on insufficient author- 
ity : without the exercise of the free and deliberate judgment of the 
Church on the alterations proposed." It would seem, therefore, that 
what was particularly deprecated was *' the alteration of the Liturgy 
on insufficient authority," without reference to any suspected character 
of the alteration in itself. But at any rate, as all probability of any 
alteration in the Liturgy vanished very soon after the publication of the 
Tracts began, the other object, the maintaining the doctrine of the 
apostolical succession, as it had been the principal one from the begin- 
ning, became in a very short time the only one. 

The great remedy, therefore, for the evils of the times, the "some- 
thing deeper and truer than satisfied the last century," or, at least, the 
most effectual means of attaining to it, is declared to be the mainten- 
ance of the doctrine of apostolical succession. Now let us hear, for it 
is most important, the grounds on which this doctrine is to be enforced, 
and the reason why so much stress is laid on it. I quote again from 
Mr. Perceval's letter. 


** Considering, 1. That the onlj way of salvation is the partakbg of 
the body and blood of our sacrificed Redeemer ; 

^* 2. That the mean eipressly authorized by him for that purpose is 
the holy sacrament of his supper ; 

^ 3. That the security by him no less eipressly authorized, for the 
continuance and due application of that sacrament, is the apostolical 
commission of the bishops, and under them the presbyters of the 
church ; 

^ 4. That under the present circumstances of the church in England, 
there is peculiar danger of these matters being slighted and practically 
disavowed, and of numbers of Christians being left or tempted to pre- 
carious and unauthorized ways of communion, which must terminate 
often in vital apostasy ; 

*' We desire to pledge ourselves one to another, reserving our canoni- 
cal obedience, as follows : — 

*'l. To be on the watch for all opportunities of inculcating, on all 
committed to our charge, a due sense of the inestimable privilege of 
communion with our Lord, through the successors of the apostles, and 
of leading them to the resolution to transmit it, by his blessing, unim- 
paired to their children." 

Then follow two other resolutions : one to provide and circulate 
books and tracts, to familiarize men's minds with this doctrine ; and 
the other, '* to do what lies in us towards reviving among churchmen 
the practice of daily common prayer, and more frequent participation of 
the Lord's Supper." 

The fourth resolution, '4o resist unauthorized alterations of the Lit- 
urgy," I have already quoted : the fifth and last engages generally to 
place within the reach of all men, accounts of such points in our dis- 
cipline and worship as may appear most likely to be misunderstood or 

These resolutions were drawn up more than seven years ago, and 
their practical results have not been contemptible. The Tracts for the 
Times amount to no fewer than ninety ; while the sermons, articles in 
reviews, stories, essays, poems, and writings of all sorts which have 
enforced the same doctrines, have been also extremely numerous. Nor 
have all these labours been without fruit ; for it is known that a large 
proportion of the clergy have adopted, either wholly or in great part, 
the opinions and spirit of the Tracts for the Times ; and many of the 
laity have embraced them also. 

It seems also, that in the various publications of their school, the 
object originally marked out in the resolutions quoted above, has been 
followed with great steadiness. The system has been uniform, and its 


several parts have held well together. It has, perhaps, been carried 
on of late more boldly, which is the natural consequence of success. 
It has in all points been the direct opposite of what raay be called the 
spirit of English protestantism of the nineteenth century ; upholding 
whatever that spirit would depreciate ; decrying whatever it would ad- 
mire. A short statement of the principal views held by Mr. Newman 
and his friends, will show this sufficiently. 

"The sacraments, and not preaching, are the sources of divine 
grace." So it is said in the Advertisement prefixed to the first volume 
of the Tracts for the Times, in exact conformity with the preamble to 
the resolutions, which I have already quoted. But the only security 
for the efficacy of the sacraments, is the apostolical commission of the 
bishops, and under them, of the pres^ters of the Church. So it is 
said in the preamble to the resolutions. These two doctrines are the 
foundation of the whole system. God's grace, and our salvation, come 
to us principally through the virtue of the sacraments ; the virtue of 
the sacraments depends on the apostolical succession of those who ad- 
minister them. The clergy, therefore, thus holding in their hands the 
most precious gifts of the Church, acquire naturally the title of the 
Church itself; the Church, as possessed of so mysterious a virtue as 
to communicate to the only means of salvation their saving efficacy, 
becomes at once an object of the deepest reverence. What wonder if 
to a body endowed with so transcendant a gift there should be given 
also the spirit of wisdom to discern all truth ; so that the solemn voice 
of the Church in its creeds, and in the decrees of its general councils, 
must be received as the voice of God himself. Nor can such a body 
be supposed to have commended any practices or states of life which 
are not really excellent ; and the duty either of all Christians, or of 
those at least who would follow the most excellent way. Fasting, there- 
fore, and the state of celibacy, are the one a Christian obligation, the 
other a Christian perfection. Again, being members of a body so 
exalted, and receiving our very salvation in a way altogether above 
reason, we must be cautious how we either trust to our individual con- 
science rather than to the command of the Church, or how we venture 
to exercise our reason at all in judging of what the Church teaches ; 
childlike faith and childlike obedience are the dispositions which God 
most loves. What, then, are they who are not of the Church, who do 
not receive the Sacraments from those who can alone give them their 
virtue ? Surely they are aliens from God, they cannot claim his cove- 
nanted mercies ; and the goodness which may be apparent in them, 
may not be a real goodness ; God may see that it is false, though to us 
it appears sincere ; but it is certain that they do not possess the only 


appointed means of salvation ; and therefore, we must consider their 
state as dangerous, although we may not venture to condemn them. 

I have not consciously misrepresented the system of Mr. Newman 
and his friends in a single particular ; I have not to my knowledge ex- 
pressed any one of their tenets invidiously. An attentive reader may 
deduce, I think, all the subordinate points in their teaching from some 
one or more of the principles which I have given ; but I have not wil- 
fully omitted any doctrine of importance. And, in every point, the op- 
position to what I may be allowed to call the protestantism of the nine- 
teenth century is so manifest, that we cannot but feel that the peculiar 
character of the system is to be traced to what I have before noticed — 
the extreme antipathy of its founders to the spirit which they felt to be 
predominate in their own age and country. 

It is worth our while to observe this, because fear and passion are 
not the surest guides to truth, and the rule of contraries is not the rule 
of wisdom. Other men have been indignant against the peculiar evils 
of their own time, and from their strong impression of these have seemed 
to lose sight of its good points ; but Mr. Newman and his friends ap- 
pear to hate the nineteenth century for its own sake, and to proscribe 
all belonging to it, whether good or bad, simply because it does belong 
to it. — ^This diseased state of mind is well shown by the immediate 
occasion of the organization of their party. Mr. Perceval tells us that 
it was the Act for the dissolution of some of the Irish bishoprics, passed 
in 1833, which first made the authors of the Tracts resolve to commence 
their publication. Mr. Perceval himself cannot even now speak of 
that Act temperately ; he calls it '^ a wanton act of sacrilege," '* a mon- 
strous act," '* an outrage upon the Church ;" and his friends, it may 
be presumed, spoke of it at the time in language at least equally vehe- 
ment. Now, I am not expressing any opinion upon the justice or expe- 
diency of that Act ; it was opposed by many good men, and its merits 
or demerits were fairly open to discussion ; but would any fair and sen- 
sible person speak of it with such extreme abhorrence as it excited in 
the minds of Mr. Perceval and his friends? The act deprived the 
Church of no portion of its property ; it simply ordered a different dis- 
tribution of it, with the avowed object on the part of its framers of 
saving the Church from the odium and the danger of exacting Church 
Rates from the Roman Catholics. It did nothing more than what, 
according to the constitution of the Churches of England and Ireland, 
was beyond all question within its lawful authority to do. The King's 
supremacy and the sovereignty of Parliament may be good or bad, but 
they are undoubted i&cts in the constitution of the Church of England, 
and have been so for nearly three hundred years. I repeat that I am 


stating no opinion as to the merits of the Irish Church Act of 1833 ; I 
only contend, that no man of sound judgment would regard it as " a 
monstrous act," or as " a wanton sacrilege." It bore upon it no marks 
of flagrant tyranny ; nor did it restrain the worship of the Church, nor 
corrupt its faith, nor command or encourage any thing injurious to 
men's souls in practice. Luther was indignant at the sale of indul- 
gences ; and his horror at the selling Church pardons for money was, 
by God's blessing, the occasion of the Reformation. The occasion of 
the new counter- reformation was the abolition of a certain number of 
bishoprics, that their revenues might be applied solely to church pur- 
poses ; and that the Church might so be saved from a scandal and a 
danger. The difference of the exciting cause of the two movements 
gives the measure of the difference between the Reformation of 1517, 
and the views and objects of Mr. Newman and his friends. 

There are states of nervous excitement, when the noise of a light 
footstep is distracting. In such a condition were the authors of the 
Tracts in 1833, and all their subsequent proceedings have shown that 
the disorder was still upon them. Beset by their horror of the nine- 
teenth century, they sought for something most opposite to it, and there- 
fore they turned to what they called Christian antiquity. Had they 
judged of their own times fairly, had they appreciated the good of the 
nineteenth century, as well as its evil, they would have looked for their 
remedy not to the second or third or fourth centuries, but the first ; 
they would have tried to restore, not the Church of Cyprian, or Atha- 
nasius, or Augustine, but the Church of St. Paul and of St. John. Now, 
this it is most certain that they have not done. Their appeal has been 
not to Scripture, but to the opinions and practices of the dominant party 
in the ancient Church. They have endeavoured to set those opinions 
and practices, under the name of apostolical tradition, on a level with 
the authority of the Scriptures. But their unfortunate excitement has 
made them fail of doing even what they intended to do. It may be true 
that all their doctrines may be found in the writings of those whom 
they call the fathers ; but the effect of their teaching is different because 
its proportions are altered. Along with their doctrines, there are other 
points and another spirit prominent in the writings of the earlier Chris- 
tians, which give to the whole a different complexion. The Tracts for 
the Times do not appear to me to represent faithfully the language of 
Christian antiquity; they are rather its caricature. 

Still more is this the case, when we compare the language of Mr. 
Newman and his friends with that of the great divines of the Church 
of England. Granting that many of these believed firmly in apostolical 
succession; that one or two may have held general councils to be 


infallible ; that some, provoked by the extraTagances of the puritans, 
have spoken over-strongly about the authority of tradition : yet the 
whole works, even of those who agree with Mr. Newman in these 
points, give a view of Christianity difierent from that of the Tracts, 
because these points, which in the Tracts stand forward without relief, 
are in our old divines tempered by the admixture of other doctrines, 
which, without contradicting them, do in fact alter their effect. This 
applies most strongly, perhaps, to Ilookcr and Taylor ; but it holds 
good also of Bull and Pearson. Pearson's exposition of the article in 
the Creed relating to the Holy Catholic Church is very different from 
the language of Mr. Newman : it is such as, with perhaps one single 
exception, might be subscribed by a man who did not believe in apos* 
tolical succession.* Again, Pearson is so far from making the creeds 
an independent authority, coordinate with Scripture, that he declares, 
contrary, I suppose, to all probability, that the Apostles' Creed itself 
was but a deduction from our present Scriptures of the New Testa- 
ment.f Undoubtedly the divines of the seventeenth century are more 
in agreement with the Tracts than the Reformers are ; but it is by no 
means true that this agreement is universal. There is but one set of 

* The sixth and last mark which he gives of the tmity of the Church is, ** the 
unity of discipline and government^** ** All the Churches of God have the same pas- 
toral guides appointed, authorized, sanctified, and set apart bj the appointment of 
God, by the direction of the Spirit, to direct and lead the people of God in the same 
way of eternal salvation ; as, therefore, there is no Church where there is no order, 
no ministry, so where the same order and ministry is, there is the same Church. And 
this is the unity of regiment and disciplme.** Pearson on the Creed, Art IX. p. 341. 
It would be easy to put a construction upon this paragraph which I could agree with ; 
but I suppose that Pearson meant what I hold to be an error. Yet how gently and 
generally is it expressed ; and this doubtful paragraph stands alone amidst seventeen 
folio pages on the article of the Holy Catholic Church. And in his conclusion where 
he delivers what ** every one ought to intend when they profess to believe the Holy 
Catholic Church," there is not a word about its government ; nor is Pearson one of 
those interpreters who pervert the perfectly certain meaning of the word ** Catholic*' 
to favour their own notions about Episcopacy. I could cordially subscribe to every 
word of this conclusion. 

t To believe, therefore, as the word stands in the front of the Creed, ... is to 
assent to the whole and every part of it as to a certain and infallible truth revealed 
by God, . . . and delivered unto us in the writings of the blessed apostles and pro- 
phets immediately inspired, moved, and acted by God, out of whoso writings thisbhef 
sum of necessary points of faith was first collected.** P. 12. And in the paragraph 
immediately preceding, Pearson had said, ** The household of God is built upon the 
foundation of the apostles and prophets, who are continued unto us only in their writ- 
ings, and by them alone convey unto os the truths which they received from God« ,. 
upon whose testimony we believe.** It appears, therefore, that Peanon not only sob- 
scribed the sixth Article of the Church of England, but ilso believed it 


writers whose minds are exactly represented by Mr. Newman and his 
friends, and these are the nonjurors. 

Many reasons, therefore, concur to make it doubtful whether the au- 
thors of the Tracts have discovered the true remedy for the evils of 
their age ; whether they have really inculcated " something better and 
deeper than satisfied the last century." The violent prejudice which 
previously possessed them, and the strong feelings of passion and fear 
which led immediately to their first systematic publications, must in the 
first instance awaken a suspicion as to their wisdom ; and this suspi- 
cion becomes stronger when we find their writings different from the 
best of those which they profess to admire ; and bearing a close re- 
semblance only to those of the nonjurors. A third consideration is also 
of much weight : that their doctrines do not enforce any great points 
of moral or spiritual perfection which other Christians had neglected ; 
nor do they, in any especial manner, " preach Christ." In this they 
offer a striking contrast to the religious movement, if I may so call it, 
which began some years since in the University of Cambridge. That 
movement, whatever human alloy might have been mingled with it, 
bore on it most clear evidence that it was in the main God's work. 
It called upon men to turn from sin and be reconciled to God ; it em- 
phatically preached Christ crucified. But Mr. Newman and his friends 
have preached as their peculiar doctrine, not Christ, but the Church ; 
we must go even farther and say, not the Church, but themselves. 
What they teach has no moral or spiritual excellence in itself; but it 
tends greatly to their own exaltation. They exalt the sacraments high- 
ly, but all that they say of their virtue, all their admiration of them as 
so setting forth the excellence of faith, inasmuch as in them the whole 
work is of God, and man has only to receive and believe, would be 
quite as true, and quite as well-grounded, if they were to abandon al- 
together that doctrine which it is their avowed object especially to en- 
force — the doctrine of apostolical succession. Referring again to the 
preamble of their original resolutions, already quoted, we see that the 
two first articles alone relate to our Lord and to his Sacraments ; the 
third, which is the great basis of their system, relates only to the Cler- 
gy. Doubtless, if apostolical succession be God's will, it is our duty 
to receive it and to teach it ; but a number of clergymen, claiming 
themselves to have this succession, and insisting that, without it, nei- 
ther Christ nor Christ's Sacraments will save us, do, beyond all con- 
tradiction, preach themselves, and magnify their own importance. They 
are quite right in doing so, if God has commanded it ; but such preach- 
ing has no manifest warrant of God in it ; if it be according to God, 
it stands alone amongst his dispensations ; his prophets, and his apos- 


ties had a different commission. " We preach," said St. Paul, '< not 
ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord ; and ourselves jour servants for 
Jesus' sake." It is certain that the enforcing apostolical succession as 
the great object of our teaching is precisely to do that very thing which 
St. Paul was commissioned not to do. 

This, to my mind, affords a very great presumption that the peculiar 
doctrines of Mr. Newman and his friends, those which they make it 
their professed business to inculcate, are not of God. I am anxious 
not to be misunderstood in saying this. Mr. Newman and his friends 
preach many doctrines which are entirely of God ; as Christians, as 
ministers of Christ's Church, they preach God's word ; and thus, a 
very large portioa of their teaching is of God, blessed both to their 
hearers and to themselves. Nay, even amongst the particular objects 
to which their own '' Resolutions" pledge them, one is indeed most ex- 
cellent — ** the revival of daily common prayer, and more frequent par- 
ticipation of the Lord's Supper." This is their merit, not as Chris- 
tians generally, but as a party, I use the word in no offensive sense ; 
in this respect, their efforts have done and are doing great good. But 
they have themselves declared that they will especially set themselves 
to preach apostolical succession ; and it is with reference to this, that 
I charge them with " preaching themselves ;" it was of this I spoke, 
when I said that there was a very great presumption that their pecu- 
liar doctrines were not of God. 

Again, the system which they hold up as '* better and deeper than 
satisfied the last century" is a remedy which has been tried once al- 
ready : and its failure was so palpable, that all the evil of the eigh- 
teenth century was but the reaction from that enormous evil which this 
remedy, if it be one, had at any rate been powerless to cure. Apos- 
tolical succession, the dignity of the Clergy, the authority of the Church, 
were triumphantly maintained for several centuries ; and their full de- 
velopment was coincident, to say the least, with the corruption alike of 
Christ's religion and Christ's Church. So far were they from tend- 
ing to realize the promises of prophecy, to perfect Christ's body up to 
the measure of the stature of Christ's own fulness, that Christ's Church 
declined during their ascendancy more and more ; — she fell alike from 
truth and from holiness ; and these doctrines, if they did not cause the 
evil, were at least quite unable to restrain it. For, in whatever points 
the fifteenth century differed from the fourth, it cannot be said that it 
upheld the apostolical succession less peremptorily, or attached a less 
value to Church tradition and Church authority. I am greatly under- 
stating the case, but I am content for the present to do so : I will not 
say that Mr. Newman's favourite doctrines were the very Antichrist 


which corrupted Christianity ; I will only say that they did not prevent 
its corruption, — that when they were most exalted, christian truth and 
christian goodness were most depressed. 

Afler all, however, what has failed once may doubtless be successful 
on a second trial : it is within possibility, perhaps, that a doctrine, al- 
though destitute of all internal evidence showing it to come from God, 
may be divine notwithstanding ; — revealed for some purposes which we 
cannot fathom, or simply as an exercise of our obedience. All this 
may be so ; and if it can be shown to be so, there remains no other 
course than to believe God's word, and obey his commandments ; only 
tho strength of the external evidence must be in proportion to the 
weakness of the internal. A good man would ask for no sign from 
heaven to assure him that God commands judgment, mercy, and truth ; 
whatsoever things are pure, and lovely, and of good report, bear in 
themselves the seal of their origin ; a seal which to doubt were blas- 
phemy. But the cloud and the lightnings and thunders, and all the 
signs and wonders wrought in Egypt and in the Red Sea, were justly 
required to give divine authority to mere positive ordinances, in which, 
without such external warrant, none could have recognised the voice of 
God. We ask of Mr. Newman and his friends to bring some warrant 
of Scripture for that which they declare to be God's will. They speak 
very positively and say, that " the security by our Lord no less express- 
ly authorized for the continuance and due application of the Sacrament 
of the Lord's Supper, is the apostolical commission of the bishops, and 
under them the presbyters of the Church." They say that our Lord 
has authorized this '*no less expressly" than he has authorized the 
Holy Supper as the mean of partaking in his body and blood. What 
our Lord has said concerning the communion, is not truly represented : 
he instituted it as one mean of grace among many ; not as the mean ; 
neither the sole mean, nor the principal. But allow, for an instant, 
that it was instituted as the mean ; and give this sense to those well- 
known and ever memorable words in which our Lord commanded his 
disciples to eat the bread and drink of the cup, in remembrance of him. 
His words commanding us to do this are express ; '* not less express," 
we are told, is his " sanction of the apostolical commission of the bi- 
shops, as tho security for the continuance and due application of the 
Sacrament." Surely these writers allow themselves to pervert lan- 
guage so habitually, that they do not consider when, and with regard 
to whom, they are doing it. They say that our Lord has sanctioned 
the Qecessitv of apostolical succession, in order to secure the continu- 
ance and efficacy of the sacrament, *' no less e xpressly" than he in- 
stituted the sacrament itsel£ If they had merely asserted that he had 


sanctioned the necessity of apostolical succession, we might have sup* 
posed that, by some interpretation of their own, they implied his sanc- 
tion of it, from words which, to other men, bore no such meaning. But 
in saying that he has *' expressly sanctioned it," they have, most un- 
consciously I trust, ascribed their own words to our Lord ; they make 
him to say what he has not said, unless they can produce* some other 
credible record of his words besides the books of the four evangelists* 
and apostolical epistles. 

That their statement is untrue, and being untrue, that it is a most grave 
matter to speak untruly of our Lord's commands, are points absolutely 
certain. But if they recall the assertion, as to the expressness of our 
Lord's sanction, and mean to say, that his sanction is implied, and may 
be reasonably deduced from what he has said, then I answer, that the de- 
duction ought to be clear, because the doctrine in itself bears on it no 
marks of having had Christ for its author. Yet so &r is it from true, that 
the necessity of apostolical succession, in order to give efficacy to the sa- 
crament, may be clearly deduced from any recorded words of our Lord, 
that there are no wordsf of his from which it can be deduced, either pro- 

* '* Scripture alone contains what remains to ns of our Lord's teaching. If there 
be a portion of revelation sacred beyond other portions, distinct and remote in its na- 
ture from the rest, it must bo the words and works of the eternal Son Incarnate. 
He is the one Prophet of the Church, as he is our one Priest and King. His history 
is as far above any other possible revelation, as heaven is above earth ; for in it we 
have literally the sight of Almighty God in his judgments, thoughts, attributes, and 
deeds, and his mode of dealing with us his creatures. Now, this special revelation is 
in Scripture, and in Scripture only : tradition has no part in it" — Newman^s LiC' 
tures on the Prophetical Office of the Church. Pp. 347, 348. 

t Since this was written, I have found out, what certainly it was impossible to an. 
ticipate beforehand, that our Lord's words, ** Do this in remembrance of me,** are 
supposed to teach the doctrine of the priest's consecrating power. But the passage 
to which I refer is so remarkable that I must quote it in its author's own words. Mr. 
Newman observes, that three out of the four Gospels make no mention of the rais- 
ing of Lazarus. He then goes on, " As the raising of Lazarus is true, though not 
contained at all in the first three Gospels ; so the gift of consecrating the Eucharist 
may have been committed by Christ to the priesthood, though only indirectly taught 
in any of the four. Will you say I am arguing against our own Church, which says 
the Scripture * contains all things necessary to be believed to salvation ?' Doubtless, 
Scripture contains all things necessary to be believed; but there may be things eon» 
tained which are not on the surface, and things which belong to the ritual, and not 
to belief. Points of faith may lie under the surface : points of observance need not 
be in Scripture at all. . The consecrating power is a point of ritual, yet if is indi- 
rectly taught in Scripture, though not brought out, when Christ said, * Do this,' 
for he spake to the apostles, who were priests, not to his disciples generaUy."-— 
Tracts for the Times. Tract 85. 

This passage is indeed characteristic of the moral and inteUcctoal £uilte which I 




bably or plausibly ; none with which it has any, the faintest, conneiion ; 
none from which it could be even conjectured that such a tenet had ever 
been in existence, I am not speaking, it wai! be observed^ of apostoli- 
cal succession simply ; but of the necessity of apostolical succession, 
as a security for tho efficacy of the sacra men L That this doctrine 
comes from God, is a position altogether without evidence, probability, 
or presumption, either internal or external. 

On the whole, then, the movement in the church, cicited by Mr, 
Newman and his friends, appears to be made in a false direction, and 

hnro alluded to as marking the wiitin^ nf Ihe tupportcrs of Mrv NewiDan*a Bystctn, 
But what \B become of the assertion, that tiiis sei^urity of the apoatolical commiiiiaii 
was ** eiprcBslj authorized'* by our Lord, when it isadmilted tliatil is on 1)' indirectly 
laught in Scripture 7 And what becomes of the notion, that what our Lord did or 
Instituted may be learned from another Botirco than Scripture, when Mr. Newman 
Jiai most truly stated, in the passage quoted in the preceding notc^ that our Lord^s 
bistory, Iho liiatory of his words and works, "■ is in Scripture^ and Scripture only : 
tradition has no part iji it ?** I pass over the surprising state of mind which could 
imagine a distinction Iwlwecn things necessary to be believed, and Dccessary to be 
dooo ; and could conceive such a dtstinclion to be according to tho meaning of our 
article. It would appear that thin shift has Ixrcn eincc abandoncdi and uthcrs^ no 
way less extraordinary, have been attempted in its place; for an ejctraordinary pro- 
cess it must be which irics to reconcile Mr. Newman's opinions with the declaration 
of the sixth article. But now for Mr. Newman*8 scriptural proof, thai our Lord 
** committed to the priesthood the gift of consecrating tlio Eucharist" ** When 
Christ said, * Do tliis,' he fpake to the apostke, who were priests, not to his discipTes 
generally/' This would prove too much^ for it would prove that none but the clergy 
were ordered to receive the communion at all : the words, " Do this,*' referring^ not 
to any consecration^ of which there had been no word said, but to the eating the 
bread, and drinking of the cup. Again» when St Paul says, *' the cup which we 
bless,** — ** the bnad which we break," it is certain that the word, " we," docs not 
refer to himself and Sotsthcncs, or to himstlf and Barnabas, but to himself and the 
wbote Corinthian church ; for he immediately goes on, " for W0| Ih© whole number 
of us," fii ^a^xei, compare Romans xii. 5, •' arc one body, for wo all are partakers of 
the one brcadJ' Thirdly, Terlullian expressly contrasts the original institution of our 
Lord wilh the church practice of his own day, in this very point " Eucharbtie 
sacrament urn et in tempore victusj et omnibus man datum a Domino, ctiam antelucn- 
nis cojtibuB nee de atiorum nianu quanj pnesidcnttum sumimus." De Corona MilitU^ 
3. I know that Tertulllan believes the alteration to have been founded upon an apoe. 
tolical tradition i but he no less names it as a change from llie original institution of 
our Lord j nor docs he appear to consider it as more than a point of order. Lastly, 
what shadow of probabihty is there, and is it not begging the whole question, to as. 
sume that our Lord spoke to his apostles as priests, and not as representatives of tbo 
whole christian church 7 Ilia language makes a distinction between his disciples and 
those who were without ; it repels it as dividing his disciples from each other His 
twelve disciples were the apostles of the chtu-ch, but tlicy were not priests. Id such 
matters our Lord*s words apply ozaetlyf ** One is your Masteri even Chnst, and ali 
ye are brethren/' 


to be incapable of satisfying the feeling which prompted it. I have 
not noticed other presumptions against it, arising from the consequen- 
ces to which the original doctrines of the party have since led, or Crom 
certain moral and intellectual faults which have marked the writings 
of its supporters. It is enough to say, that the movement originated 
in minds highly prejudiced before hand, and under the immediate in- 
fluence of passion and fear ; that its doctrines, as a whole, resemble 
the teaching of no set of writers entitled to respect, either in the early 
church, or in our own ; that they tend not to Christ's glory, or to the 
advancement of holiness, but simply to the exaltation of the clergy ; 
and that they are totally unsupported by the authority of Scripture. 
They are a plant, therefore, which our heavenly Father has not planted ; 
a speaking in the name of the Lord what the Lord has not commanded ; 
hay and stubble, built upon the foundation of Christ, which are good 
for nothing but to be burned. 

I have spoken quite confidently of the total absence of all support 
in Scripture for Mr. Newman's favorite doctrine of '* the necessity of 
apostolical succession, in order to ensure the effect of the sacraments." 
This doctrine is very different from that of the Divine appointment of 
episcopacy, as a form of government, or even from that of the exclu- 
sive lawfulness of that episcopacy which has come down by succes- 
sion from the apostles. Much less is it to be confounded with any no- 
tions, however exalted, of the efficacy of the sacraments, even though 
carried to such a length as we read of in the early church, when living 
men had themselves baptized as proxies for the dead, and when a por- 
tion of the wine of the communion was placed by the side of a corpse 
in the grave. Such notions may be superstitious and unscriptural, 
as indeed they are, but they are quite distinct from a belief in the ne- 
cessity of a human priest to give the sacraments their virtue. And, 
without going to such lengths as this, men may over-estimate the effi- 
cacy of the sacraments, to the disparagement of prayer, and preaching, 
and reading the Scriptures, and yet may be perfectly clear from the 
opinion which makes this efficacy depend immediately on a human ad- 
ministrator. And so, again, men may hold episcopacy to be divine, 
and the episcopacy of apostolical succession to be the only true epis- 
copacy, but yet they may utterly reject the notion of its being essen- 
tial to the efficacy of the sacraments. It is of this last doctrine only 
that I assert, in the strongest terms, that it is wholly without support in 
Scripture, direct or indirect, and that it does not minister to godliness. 

In truth, Mr. Newman and his friends are well aware that the Scrip, 
ture will not support their doctrine, and therefore it is that they have 
proceeded to such lengths in upholding the authori^ not of the creeds 


only but of the opinions and practices of the ancient church gene- 
rally ; and that they try to explain away the clear language of our 
article, that nothing ** which is neither read therein, in holy Scripture, 
nor may be proved thereby, is to be required of any man that it should 
be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary 
to salvation." It would be one of the most unaccountable phenomena 
of the human mind, were any man fairly to come to the conclusion 
that the Scriptures and the early church were of equal authority, and 
that the authority of both was truly divine. If any man resolve to 
maintain doctrines and practices as of divine authority, for which the 
Scripture offers no countenance, they of course are driven to maintain 
the authority of the Church in their own defence ; and where they 
have an interest in holding any particular opinion, its falsehood, how- 
ever palpable, is unhappily no bar to its reception. Otherwise it 
would seem that the natural result of believing the early church to be 
of equal authority with the Scripture, would be to deny the inspiration 
of either. For two things so different in several points as the Chris- 
tianity of the Scriptures and that of the early church, may conceivably 
be both false, but it is hard to think that they can both be perfectly 

I am here, however allowing, what is by no means true, without 
many qualifications, that Mr. Newman's system is that of the early 
church. The historical inquiry as to the doctrines of the early church 
would lead me into far too wide a field ; I may only notice, in passing, 
how many points require to be carefully defined in conducting such an 
inquiry ; as, for instance, what we mean by the term " early church," 
as to time ; for that may be fully true of the church in the fourth cen- 
tury, which is only partially true of it in the third, and only in a very 
slight degree true of it in the second or first. And again, what do we 
mean by the term " early church " as to persons ; for a few eminent 
writers are not even the whole clergy ; neither is it by any means to be 
taken on their authority that their views were really those of all the 
bishops and presbyters of the Christian world : but if they were, the 
clergy are not the church, nor can their judgments be morally consid- 
ered as the voice of the church, even if we were to admit that they 
could at any time constitute its voice legally. But, for my present pur- 
pose wo may take for granted that Mr. Newman's system as to the pre- 
eminence of the sacraments, and the necessity of apostolical succes- 
sion to give them their efficacy, was the doctrine of the early church ; 
then I say that this system is so dificrent from that of the New Testa- 
ment, that to invest the two with equal authority is not to make the 
church system divine, but to make the scriptural system human ; or. 


at the best, perishable and temporary, like the ceremonial law of 
Moses. Either the church system must be supposed to have superseded 
the scriptural system,* and its unknown authors are the real apostles 
of our present faith, in which case we do not see why it should not be 
superseded in its turn, and why the perfect manifestation of Chris- 
tianity should not be found in the Koran, or in any still later system ; 
or else neither of the two systems can be divine, but the one is merely 
the human production of the first century, the other that of the second 
and third. If this be so, it is clearly open to all succeeding centuries 
to adopt whichever of the two they choose, or neither. 

To such consequences are those driven who maintain the divine 
authority of the system of Mr. Newman. Assuredly the thirst " for 
something deeper and truer than satisfied the last century " will not be 
allayed by a draught so scanty and so vapid ; but after the mirage has 
beguiled and disappointed him for a season, the traveller presses on the 
more eagerly i6 the true and living well. 

In truth, the evils of the last century were but the inevitable fruits 
of the long ascendancy of Mr. Newman's favourite principles. 
Christ's religion had been corrupted in the long period before the 
Reformation, but it had ever retained many of its main truths, and it 
was easy, when the appeal was once made to Scripture, to sweep 
away the corruptions, and restore it in its perfect form ; but Christ's 
church had been destroyed so long and so completely, that its very idea 

• This haa been most ably maiDtained by Rotho, Anfange der ChrUtliehen Kirehe 
und ihrcr Verfassung^ Wittenberg, 1837, with respect to the origin of episcopacy. 
He contends that it was instituted by the surviving apostles after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, as an intentional change from the earlier constitution of the church, in 
order to enable it to meet the peculiar difficulties and dangers of the times. To this 
belongs the question of the meaning of the expression, oi t«ik ^wri^^tf rZf 'Aflrotf-Toxw 
JVarof fxi wafgflUMXoi/S^jtaTff, in the famous Fragments of Irenaeus, published by Pfaff, 
from a manuscript in the library of Turin, and to be found in the Venice edition of 
IrenoBus, 1734, vol. ii. Fragmentorum^ p. 10. But then Rothe would admit that if 
the apostles altered what they themselves liad appointed, it would follow that neither 
their earlier nor their later institutions were intended to be for all times and aU places, 
but were simply adapted to a particular state of circumstances, and were alterable 
when that state was altered : in short, whatever institutions the apostles changed 
were shown to be essentially changeable ; otherwise their early institution was de- 
fective, which cannot be conceived. And thus it may well be that the early church 
may have altered, in some points, the first institutions of the apostles, and may have 
been guided by God*s Spirit hi doing so ; but the error consists in believing that the 
new institutions were to be of necessity more permanent than those which they nie- 
ceeded ; in supposing that either the one or the other belong to the eternal traths 
and laws of Christ's religion, when they belong, in (act, to the essentially changeable 
regulations of his church. 


was all but lost, and to revive it actually was impossible. What had 
been known under that name, — I am speaking of Christ's church, be 
it observed, as distinguished from Christ's religion, — was so great an 
evil, that, hopeless of drawing any good from it, men looked rather to 
Christ's religion as all in all ; and, content with having destroyed the 
false church, never thought that the scheme 6f Christianity could not 
be perfectly developed without the restoration of the true one. But 
the want was deeply felt, and its consequences were deplorable. At 
this moment men are truly craving something deeper than satisfied the 
last century ; they crave to have the true church of Christ, which the 
last century was without. Mr. Newman perceives their want, and 
again offers them that false church which is worse than none at all. 

The truths of the Christian religion are to be sought for in the 
Scripture alone ; they are the same at all times and in all countries. 
With the Christian church it is otherwise ; the church is not a revela- 
tion concerning the unchangeable and eternal God, but an institution 
to enable changeable man to apprehend the unchangeable. Because 
man is changeable, the church is also changeable ; changeable, not in 
its object, which is for ever one and the same, but in its means fi>r 
effecting that object ; changeable in its details, because the same treat- 
ment cannot suit various diseases, various climates, various constitu- 
tional peculiarities, various external influences. 

The Scripture, then, which is (he sole and direct authority for all the 
truths of the Christian religion, is not in the same way, an authority for 
the constitution and rules of the Christian church ; that is, it does not 
furnish direct authority, but guides us only by analogy ; or it gives us 
merely certain main principles, which we must apply to our own various 
circumstances. This is shown by the remarkable fact, that neither our 
Lord nor his apostles have left any commands with respect to the con- 
stitution and administration of the church generally. Commands in 
abundance they have lefl us on moral matters ; and one commandment 
of another kind has been added, the commandment, namely, to cele- 
brate the Lord's Supper. ** Do this in remembrance of me," are our 
Lord's words ; and St. Paul tells us, if we could otherwise have 
doubted it, that this remembrance is to be kept up for ever. " As often 
as ye eat that bread or drink that cup ye do shew the Lord's death till 
Tie come.^^ This is the one perpetual ordinance of the Christian churchy 
and this is commanded to be kept perpetually. But its other institu- 
tions are mentioned historically, as things done once, but not neces- 
sarily to be always repeated ; nay, they are mentioned without any 
details, so that we do not always know what their exact form was in 
their original state, and cannot, therefore, if we would, adopt it as a 


perpetual modeL Nor. in it imiidportftitt to obeerre that institutioiii 
are recorded as having been created on the spur of the occasion, if I 
ma J so speak, not as having formed a part of an original and universal 
plan. A great change in the character of the deacon, or subordinate 
minister's office, is introduced in consequence of the complaints of the 
Hellenist Christians : the number of the apostles is increased hj the 
addition of Paul and Barnabas, not appointed, as Matthias had been, bj 
the other apostles themselves, but by the prophets and teachers of the 
church of Antioch. Again, the churches founded bj St. Paul were 
each, at first, placed by him under the government of several presbj- 
ters ; but afler his imprisonment at Rome, finding that thej were be- 
come greatly corrupted, he sends out single persons, in two instances, 
with full powers to remodel these churches, and with authority to cor- 
rect the presbyters themselves : yet it does not appear that these espe- 
cial* visitors were to alter permanently the earlier constitution of the 
churches ; nor that they were sent generally to all the Churches which 
St. Paul had founded. Indeed, it appears evident from the epistle of 
Clement, that the original constitution of the church of Corinth still 
subsisted in his time ; the government was still vested not in one man, 
but in many.f Yet a few years later the government of a single man, 
as we see from Ignatius, was become very general ; and Ignatius, as is 
well known, wishes to invest it with absolute power.^ I believe that 

* The command, " to appoint elders in every city,*' is given to Titus, according to 
PaaVs practice when he first formed churches of the Gentiles, Acts ziv. 2. Nor 
did Timothy, or Titus, remaii^ permanently at Ephesus, or in Crete. Timothy, 
when St. Paul's second Epistle was written to him, was certainly not at Ephcsos, but 
apparently in Pontus ; and Titus, at the same period, was gone to Dalmatia : nor 
indeed was he to remain in Crete beyond the summer of the year in which St Paul's 
Epistle was written ; he was to meet Paul, in the winter, at Nicopolis. 

t Only elders arc spoken of as governing the church of Corinth. It is impossible 
to understand clearly the nature of the contest, and of the party against which Cle- 
ment's Epistle is directed. Where he wishes the heads of that party to say, u /i* tfA 
craa-t( xxi tpic «x} c^ia-juitrst^ U%«fJi, ivufxi ev idv fijuhnvBty aut} mtZ Ttk ^poa^tta^/JUHt 
M Tou ^rxjfdotfc, c. 54, it would seem as if they had been endeavouring to exercise a 
despotic authority over the church, in defiance of the general feeling, as well as of 
the existing government, like those earlier persons at Corinth whom Paul describes, 
in his second Epistle, xi. 20 ; and like Diotrephes, mentioned by St John, 3 Epist 
9, 10. But in a society where all power must have depended on the consent of those 
subject to it, how could any one exercise a tyranny against the will of the majority, 
as well as, against the authority of the apostles 7 And r^ rfovrtta^futnt, Mnv 
mJBwt must signify, I think, ** the bidding of the society at large.*' Compare for 
this use of TAJidof, Ignatius, Smym. 8 : Trallian. 1,8. A conjecture might bo ofoed 
as to the solution of this difficulty, but it would lead me into too long a discusnon. 

X Insomuch that he wished all marriages to be solemnized with the consent and 
approbatbn of the bishop, /urik ytStfjuis tov IjriTuimVf that they might be '* accordiiig 


he acted quite wisely according to the circumstances of the church at 
that period; and that nothing less than a vigorous unity of government 
could have struggled with the difficulties and dangers of that crisis* 
But no man can doubt that the system which Ignatius so earnestly re- 
commends was very different from that which St. Paul had instituted 
fifty or sixty years earlier. 

On two points, however, — ^points not of detail, but of principle, — 
the Scripture does seem to speak decisively. 1. The whole body of the 
church was to take an active share in its concerns ; the various facul- 
ties of its various members were to perform their several parts : it was 
to be a living society, not an inert mass of mere hearers and subjects, 
who were to be authoritatively taught, and absolutely ruled by one small 
portion of its members. It is quite consistent with this, that, at parti- 
cular times, the church should centre all its own power and activity in 
the persons of its rulers. In the field, the imperium of the Roman 
consul was unlimited ; and even within the city walls, the senate's 
commission, in times of imminent danger, released him fi*om all re- 
straints of law ; the whole power of the state was, for the moment, 
his, and his only. Such temporary despotisms are sometimes not ex- 
pedient merely, but necessary : without them society would perish. I 
do not, therefore, regard Ignatius's epistle as really contradictory to the 
idea of the church conveyed to us in the twelfth chapter of Paul's First 
Epistle to the Corinthians : I believe that the dictatorship, so to speak, 
which Ignatius claims for the bishop in each church, was required by 
the circumstances of the case ; but to change the temporary into the 
perpetual dictatorship, was to subvert the Roman constitution ; and to 
make Ignatius's language the rule, instead of the exception, is no less 
to subvert the Christian church. Wherever the language of Ignatius 
is repeated with justice, there the church must either be in its in&ncy, 
or in its dotage, or in some extraordinary crisis of danger ; wherever 
it is repeated, as of universal application, it destroys, as in fact it has 
destroyed, the very life of Christ's institution. 

But, 2, the Christian church was absolutely and entirely, at all 
times, and in all places, to be without a human priesthood. Despotic 
government and priesthood are things perfectly distinct from one an- 
other. Despotic government might be required, from time to time, by 
this or that portion of the Christian church, as by other societies ; for 
government is essentially changeable, and all forms, in the manifold 
^-Brieties of the condition of society, are, in their turn, lawful and bene- 

to God, and not accordin^r to passion ;** autTa Ofoy tut) fjiii imt* tmBvfjiUf. — Ad, Poty- 
carp. 5. 


ficiaL But a priesthood belongs to a matter not so varying — the fela- 
tions subsisting between God and man* These reUtions were fixed 
for the Christian church, from its verj foundation, being, in &ct, no 
other than the main truths of the Christian religion ; and they bar, for 
all time, the very notion of an earthly priesthood. They bar it, be- 
cause they establish the everlasting priesthood of our Lord, which 
leaves no place for any other; they bar it, because priesthood is es- 
sentially mediation ; and they establish one Mediator between God 
and man — the Man Christ Jesus* And, therefore, the notion of Mr* 
Newman and his friends, that the sacraments derive iheu: efficacy 
from the apostolical succession of the minister, is so extremely unchris- 
tian, that it actually deserves to be called antichristian : for there is no 
point of the priestly office, properly so called, in which the claim of the 
earthly priest is not absolutely precluded.* Do we want him for sa- 
crifice ? Nay, there is no place for him at all ; fi>r our one atoning 
Sacrifice has been once offered ; and by its virtue we are enabled to 
ofier daily our spiritual sacrifices of ourselves, which no other man can 
by possibility ofier for us. Do we want him for intercession 1 Nay, 
there is One who ever liveth to make intercession for us, through 
whom we have access to ngoaaXoiyi^v^ admission to the presence of the 
Father, and for whose sake, Paul, and Apollos, and Peter, and things 
present, and things to come, are all ours already. His claim can nei- 
ther be advanced nor received without high dishonour to our true 
Pnest, and to his blessed gospel. If circumcision could not be 

* In order to prevent the ponibilitj of misunderBtanding^, it is proper to repeat that 
the English word ** priest ** has two significations, — the one, according to its ety. 
mologj, through the French pretre, or prettret and the Latin presbyterus^ from the 
Greek Trfw^Ttfoi ; in which sense it is used in our Liturgy and Rubrics, and signifies 
merely " one belonging to the order of Presbyters," as distinguished from the other 
two orders of bishops and deacons. But the other signification of the word ** priest," 
and which we use, I think, more commonly, is the same with the meaning of the 
Latin word tacerdoa^ and the Greek word iigt^c and means, ** one who stands as a me- 
diator between God and the people, and brings them to €rod by the virtue of certain 
ceremonial acts which he performs for them, and which they could not perform for 
themselves without profanation, because they are at a distance from God, and cannot, 
in their own persons, venture to approach towards him.** In this sense of the word 
** priest," the term is not applied to the ministers of the Christian church, either by 
the Scripture, or by the authorized formularies of the Church of England ; although, 
in the other sense, as synonymous with Presbyters, it is used in our Prayer Book re- 
peatedly. Of course, not one word of what I have wntten is meant to deny the law- 
fulness and importance of the order of Presbyters in the church : I have only spoken 
against a priesthood, in the other sense of the word, in which a *• priest'" means " a 
mediator between God and man ;" — in that sense, in short, in which the word is not 
a translation of jr^/Sunfop, bat of Mfi^c. 



practised, as necessary, by a believer m Christ, without its mvomng n 
forfeiture of Ihe benefits of Christ's salvation ; bow much more does 
St. Paul's language apply to the invention of an earthly priesthood — a 
priesthood neither after the order of Aaron, nor yet of Melchizedek ; 
unlawful alike under the law and the gospel. 

It is the invention of the human priesthood, which falling in, unhap- 
pily, with the absolute power rightfully vested in the Christian church 
during the troubles of the second century, fixed the exception as the 
rule, and so In the end destroyed the church. It pretended that the 
clergy were not simply rulers and teachers, — offices which necessarily 
Tary according to the state of those who are ruled and taught, — but 
that they were essentially mediators between God and the church ; and 
as this language would have sounded too profanely, — for the mediator 
between God and the church can be none but Christ, — ^so the clergy 
began to draw to themselves the attributes of the church, and to call 
the church by a different name, such as the faithful, or the laity ; bo 
that to speak of the church mediating for the people did not sound so 
shocking, and the doctrine so disguised found ready acceptance. Thus 
the evil work was consummated ; the great majority of the members of 
the church were virtually disfranchised ; the minority retained the name, 
but the character of the institution was utteriy corrupted. 

To revive Christ^s church, therefore, is to expel the antichrist of 
priesthood, which, as it was foretold of him, ** as God, sittelh in the 
temple of God, showing himself that he is God,*' and to restore its dis* 
franchised members, — the laity, — to the discharge of their proper du- 
ties in it, and to the consciousness of their paramount importauce ; and 
all who value the inestimable blessings of Christ's church should labour 
in arousing the laity to a sense of their great share in them.* In par- 
ticular, that discipline, w^hich is one of the greatest of those blessings, 
never can, and, indeed, never ought to bo restored, till the church re* 
sumes its lawful authority, and puts an end to the usurpation of its 
powders by the clergy. There is a tl^eling now awakened amongst the 
lay members of our Church, which, if it can but be rightly directed, 
may, by God's blessing, really arrive at something truer and deeper 
than satisfied the last century, or than satisfied the last seventeen cen* 
turies. Otherwise, whatever else may be improved, the laity will lake 
care that church discipline shall continue to slumber, and they will best 
serve I he Church by doing so. Much may be done to spread the know- 
ledge of Christ's religion ; new churches may be built ; new ministers 
appointed to preacb the word and administer the sacraments; those 

* Chriatian Life ; its CotUM, its Hindrances, and its Helps. — Sermons zxxviiL 
and xL 


maj bear wbo now cannot bear ; manj more sick persons may be 
visited ; many more children may receive religious instruction : all this 
is good, and to be received with sincere thankfulness: but, with a 
knowledge revealed to us of a still more excellent power in Christ's 
church, and with the abundant promises of prophecy in our hands, can 
we rest satisfied with the lesser and imperfect good, which strikes thrice 
and stays ? But, if the zeal of the lay members of our Church be 
directed by the principles of Mr. Newman, then the result will be, not 
merely a lesser good, but one fearfully mixed with evil — Christian reli- 
gion profaned by antichristian fables ; Christian holiness marred by 
superstition and uncharitable ness ; Christian wisdom and Christian 
sincerity scoffed at, reviled, and persecuted out of sight. This is de- 
clared to us by the sure voice of experience ; this was the fruit of the 
spirit of priestcraft, with its accompaniments of superstitious rites and 
lying traditions, in the last decline of the Jewish church ; this was the 
fruit of the same spirit, with the same accompaniments, in the long 
decay of the Christian church ; although the indestructible virtue of 
Christ's gospel was manifest in the midst of the evil, and Christ, in 
every age and in every country, has been known with saving power by 
some of his people, and his church, in her worst corruptions, has taught 
many divinest truths, has inculcated many holiest virtues. 

When the tide is setting strongly against us we can scarcely expect 
to make progress ; it is enough if we do not drift along with it. Mr. 
Newman's system is now at the flood ; it is daily making converts ; it 
is daily swelled by many of those who neither love it nor understand it 
in itself, but who hope to make it serve their purposes, or who like to 
swim with the stream. A strong profession, therefore, of an opposite 
system must expect, at the present moment, to meet with little favour ; 
nor, indeed, have I any hope of turning the tide, which will flow for its 
appointed season, and its ebb does not seem to be at hand. But whilst 
the hurricane rages, those exposed to it may well encourage one an- 
other to hold fast their own foundations against it ; and many are 
exposed to it in whose welfare I naturally have the deepest interest, 
and in whom old impressions may be supposed to have still so much 
force that I may claim from them, at least, a patient hearing. I am 
anxious to show them that Mr. Newman's system is to be opposed not 
merely on negative grounds, as untrue, but as obstructing that perfect 
and positive truth, that perfection of Christ's church, which the last cen- 
tury, it may be, neglected, but which I value and desire as earnestly as 
it can be valued and desired by any man alive. My great objection to 
Mr. Newman's system is, that it destroy's Christ's church, and sets up 
an evil in its stead. We do not desire merely to hinder the evil from 


occupying the ground, and to leave it empty ; that has been, undoubt- 
edly, the misfortune, and partly the fault of Protestantism ; but we de- 
sire to build on the holy ground a no less holy temple, not of our own 
devices, but according to the teaching of Christ himself, who has given 
us the outline, and told us what should be its purposes. 

The true church of Christ would offer to every faculty of our nature 
its proper exercise, and would entirely meet all our wants. No wise 
man doubts that the Reformation was imperfect, or that in the Romish 
system there were many good institutions, and practices, and feelings^ 
which it would be most desirable to restore amongst ourselves. Daily 
church services, frequent communions, memorials of our Christian call- 
ing continually presented to our notice, in crosses and way-side orato- 
ries ; commemorations of holy men, of all times and countries ; the 
doctrine of the communion of saints practically taught ; religious orders, 
especially of women, of different kinds, and under different rules, deliv. 
ered only from the snare and sin of perpetual vows ; — all these, moat 
of which are of some efficacy for good, even in a corrupt church, belong 
no less to the true church, and would there be purely beneficial. If 
Mr. Newman^s system attracts good and thinking men, because it seems 
to promise them all these things, which in our actual Church are not 
to be found, let them remember, that these things belong to the perfect 
church no less than to that of the Romanists and of Mr. Newman, and 
would flourish in the perfect church far more healthily. Or, again, if 
any man admires Mr. Newman's system for its austerities, if he regards 
fasting as a positive duty, he should consider that these might be trans- 
ferred also to the perfect church, and that they have no necessary con- 
nexion with the peculiar tenets of Mr. Newman. We know that the 
Puritans were taunted by their adversaries for their frequent fasts, and 
the severity of their lives ; and they certainly were far enough from 
agreeing with Mr. Newman. Whatever there is of good, or self-deny- 
ing, or ennobling, in his system, is altogether independent of his doc- 
trine concerning the priesthood. It is that doctrine which is the pecu- 
liarity of his system and of Romanism ; it is that doctrine which con- 
stitutes the evil of both, which overweighs all the good accidentally 
united with it, and makes the system, as such, false and antichristian. 
Nor can any human being find in this doctrine anything of a beneficial 
tendency, either to his intellectual, his moral, or his spiritual nature. 
If mere reverence be a virtue, without reference to its object, let us, by 
all means, do honour to the virtue of those who fell down to the stock 
of a tree ; and let us lament the harsh censure which charged them 
with " having a lie in their right hand."* 

* Tho language which Mr. Newman and hi« fnends ha^e allowed themtelYet Uk 

TEA0T8 VOR THX miBS. 961 

What does the true and perfect church want, that she should borrow 
from the broken cisterns of idolatry ? Holding all those truths in which 
the clear voice of God's word is joined bj the accordant confession of 
God's people in all ages ; holding all the means of grace of which she 
was designed to be the steward — her common prayers, her pure preach- 
ing, her uncorrupted sacraments, her free and living society, her wise 
and searching discipline, her commemorations and memorials of God's 
mercy and grace, whether shown in her Lord himself, or in his and her 
members ; — looking lovingly upon her elder sisters, the ancient churches, 
and delighting to be in communion with them, as she hopes that her 
younger sisters, the churches of later days, will delight to be in com- 
munion with her ; — ^what has she not, that Christ's bride should have ? 
what has she not that Mr. Newman's system can give her ? But, be- 
cause she loves her Lord, and stands fast in his faith, and has been 
enlightened by his truth, she will endure no other mediator than Christ, 
she will repose her trust only on his word, she will worship in the 
light, and will abhor the words, no less than the works, of darkness. 
Her sisters, the elder churches, she loves and respects as she would be 
herself loved and respected ; but she will not, and may not, worship 
them, nor even, for their sakes, believe error to be truth, or foolishness 
to be wisdom. She dare not hope that she can be in all things a per- 
fect guide and example to the churches that shall come afler her ; as 
neither have the churches before her been in all things a perfect guide 
and example to herself. She would not impose her yoke upon future 
generations, nor will she submit her own neck to the yoke of antiquity. 
She honours all men, but makes none her idol ; and she would have 
her own individual members regard her with honour, but neither would 
she be an idol to them. She dreads especially that sin of which her 
Lord has so emphatically warned her — the sin against the Holy Ghost. 
She will neither lie against him, by declaring that he is where his 
fruits are not manifested ; nor blaspheme him, by saying that he is not 
where his fruits are. Rites and ordinances may be vain, prophets may 
be false, miracles may be miracles of Satan : but the signs of the Holy 
Spirit, truth and holiness, can never be ineffectual, can never deceive, 

hold, in admiration of what they call reverential and submissiye faith, mi^ht certainly 
be used in defence of the lowest idolatry ; what they have dared to call rationalistio 
can plead such high and sacred authority in its favour, that if I were to quote some 
of the language of the " Tracts for the Times,'* and place by the side of it certahi 
passages from the New Testament, Mr. Newman and his friends would appear to 
hare been writing blai^emy. It seems scarcely possible that they could have remem- 
bered what is said in Matthew xv. 9~-ao, and who said it, when they have called it 
latioiialism to deny a spiritual virtue in things tbat are applied to the body. 



can never be ovil; where they are, and only where they are, there is 

There are stales of falsehood and wickedness so monstrous, that, to 
use the language of Eastern mythology, the Destroyer God is greater 
than the Creator or the Preserver^ and no good can be conceived so 
great as the destruction of the existing cviK But ordinarily in human 
aflairs destruction and creation should go hand in hand j as the ever- 
green shrubs of our gardena do not cast their old leaves till the young 
ones are ready to supply their place. Great as is the falsehood of 
Mr. Newman's sysUrm, it would be but an unsatisfactory work to clear 
it away, if we had no positive truth to oirer in its room. But the 
thousands of good men whom it has hegnjled, because it professed to 
meet the earnest craving of their minds for a restomiion of Christ's 
church with power, need not fear to open their eyes to its hollownesa ; 
like the false miracles of fraud or sorcery, it is but the counterfeit of a 
real truth* The restoration of the chm-ch is^ indeed, the best consum- 
mation of all our prayers, and all our labours ; it is not a dream, not a 
|>ro8pect to bo seen only in the remotest distance ; it is possible, It He? 
very near us ; with God's blessing it is in the power of this very gene- 
ration to begin and make some progress in the work, If the many 
good, and wise, and influential laymen of our Church would but awake 
to their true position and duties, and would labour heartily to procure 
for the church a living organization and an elective government, in 
both of which the laity should be essential members, then, indeed, the 
church would become a reality.* This is not Erastianism, or rather, 

* The famoas saying, ** extra ecclesiam nulta salus/^ is, in itv idea, a most didm^ 
truth ; hlBiohcally and in fact it may be, and often has tmcn, a practical falaehood^ 
If the truths of Chrwt'e rciligiaci wore necessarily accessible only to the membcis of 
some visible church, then it would be true always, inssmuch as to be out of the 
church would then be the same thing as to be without Christ ; and, ns a society, the 
ehufch ought ao to attract to itself all goodness, and by its internal orgunization, flo 
to encourage all goodness, tliat nothing would bo without its pale but cjt.Lreme wicJu 
edaev, or extreme ignorance ; and ho who were voluntarily to forfj-it its spirituaJ 
advantagea would be guilty of moral suicide : i$o St« Paul calls the church the pillar 
and ground of trutJt ; that is, il was bo in its purpose and idea : and he therefore 
conjurcB Timothy to walk warily in it, and to take heed that what ought to be the 
pillar and grt^xund of truth should not be profaned by fables, and so be changed into 
ft pillar of falsehood. But to say universally, as an historical fact, that **ejtm 
ecclesiam nulla sal us," may be often to utter one of the worat of falsehoods, A 
ferry is set op to transport men over an unfordabte river, and it might be truly aaid 
that '* extra navcm nulla salus ;■' there is no other safe way, speaking generally, of 
getting over*, but the ferryman has got the plague, and if you go in tlie boat with 
him, you will catch it and die. In despair, a man plunges into the watcr^ and 
•wimi acrooi; would not the ferryman bo guilty of a double falsehood who ohouJd 


it is not wbat is commonly cried down under that name ; it is not the 
subjection of the church to the state, which, indeed would be a roost 
miserable and most unchristian condition ; but it would be the deli- 
verance of the church, and its exaltation to its own proper sovereigntj. 
The members of one particular profession are most fit to administer 
a sjstem in part, most unfit to legislate for it or to govern it : we could 
ill spare the abilitj and learning of our lawyers, but we surely should 
not wish to have none but lawyers concerned even in the administra- 
tion of justice, much less to have none but lawyers in the government 
or in parliament. What is true of lawyers with regard to the state, is 
no less true of the clergy with regard to the church ; indispensable as 
ministers and advisers, they cannot, without great mischief, act as sole 
judges, sole legislatoi's, sole governors. And this is a truth so palpa- 
ble, that the clergy, by pressing such a claim, merely deprive the 
church of its judicial, legislative, and executive functions ; whilst the 
common sense of the church will not allow them to exercise these 
powers, and, whilst they assert that no one else may exercise them, 
the result is, that they are not exercised at all, and the essence of the 
church is destroyed. 

The first step towards the restoration of the church seems to be the 
revival of the order of deacons ; which might be effected without any 
other change in our present system than a repeal of all laws, canons, 
or customs which prohibit a deacon from following a secular calling, 
which confer on him any civil exemptions, or subject him to any civil 
disqualifications. The Ordination Service, with the subscription 
to the Articles, would remain perfectly unaltered; and as no 
deacon can hold any benefice, it is manifest that the proposed 
measure would in no way interfere with the rights or duties of 
the order of presbyters, or priests, which would remain precisely 
what they are at present. But the benefit in large towns would 
be enormous, if, instead of the present system of district visiting 
by private individuals, excellent as that is where there is nothing 
better, we could have a large body of deacons, the ordained ministers 
of the church, visiting the sick, managing charitable subscriptions, and 
sharing with their presbyter in those strictly clerical duties, which 
now in many cases, are too much for the health and powers of the 
strongest. Yet a still greater advantage would be found in the link 
thus formed between the clergy and laity by the revival of an order 
appertaining in a manner to both. Nor would it be a little thing that 

call oat to this man, ** extra nayem nulla salus," insisting that he had not swiiin 
oyer when he had, and saying that his boat would have carried hua safely, whereas 
it would have killed him ? 


many who now become teachers in some dissenting congregation, not 
because they diflbr from our Articles, or dislike our Liturgy, but be. 
cause they cannot afford to go to the universities, and have no prospect 
of being maintained by the church, if they were to give up their secular 
callings, would, in all human probability, be glad to join the church 
as deacons, and would thus be subject to her authorities, and would 
be engaged in her service, instead of being aliens to her, if not 

When we look at the condition of our country ; at the poverty and 
'wretchedness of so large a portion of the working classes ; at tbe 
intellectual and moral evils which certainly exist among the poor, but 
by no means amongst the poor only ; and when we witness the many 
partial attempts to remedy those evils — attempts benevolent indeed and 
wise, so far as they go, but utterly unable to strike to the heart of the 
mischief; can any Christian doubt that here is the work for the church 
of Christ to do ; that none else can do it ; and that with the blessing 
of her Almighty Head she can. Looking upon the chaos around us, 
one power alone can reduce it into order, and fill it with light and life. 
And docs he really apprehend the perfections and high calling of 
Christ's church ; does he indeed fathom the depths of man's wants, 
or has ho learnt to rise to the fulness of the stature of their divine 
remedy, who comes forward to preach to us the necessity of apostolical 
succession ? Grant even that it was of divine appointment, still as it 
is demonstrably and palpably unconnected with holiness, as it would 
be a mere positive and ceremonial ordinance, it cannot be the point 
of most importance to insist on ; even if it be a sin to neglect this, 
there are so many far weightier matters equally neglected, that it 
would be assuredly no Christian prophesying which were to strive to 
direct our chief attention to this. But the wholly unmoral character 
of this doctrine, which if it were indeed of God, would make it a single 
mysterious exception to all the other doctrines of the Gospel, is, God 
be thanked, not more certain than its total want of external evidence ; 
the Scripture disclaims it, and Christ himself condemns it. 

I have spoken of the system, and its chief author, simply as the 
maintainer of certain doctrines, not as maintaining them in any parti« 
cular maimer, far less as actuated by any particular motives. I be- 
lieve him to be in most serious error. I believe his system to be so 
destructive of Christ's church, that I earnestly pray, and I would labour 
to the utmost of my endeavours, for its utter overthrow ! 




" It is strange that any persons should ever have been afraid of their 
understandings^ and should have sought goodness through prejudice^ and 
blindness^ andfoUyJ'^ — For some time past the words '* Rationalism" 
and "rationalistic" have been freely used as terms of reproach by wri- 
ters on religious subjects ; the 7dd No. of the "Tracts for the Times" 
is entitled, " On the Introduction of Rationalistic Principles into Reli- 
gion ;" and a whole chapter in Mr. Gladstone's late work on Church 
Principles is headed " Rationalism." Yet we still want a clear defi- 
nition of the thing signified by this name. The Tract for the Times 
says, " To rationalize, is to ask for reasons out of place ; to ask im- 
properly how we are to account for certain things ; to be unwilling to 
believe them unless they can be accounted for, referred to something 
else as a cause, to some existing system as harmonising with them, or 
taking them up into itself. It is characterised by two peculiarities ; — 
its love of systematising, and its basing its system upon personal expe- 
rience, on the evidence of sense." — P. 2. Mr. Gladstone says more 
generally, " Rationalism is commonly, at least in this country, taken to 
be the reduction of Christian doctrine to the standard and measure of 
the human understanding." P. 37. But neither of these definitions will 
include all the arguments and statements which have been called by 
various writers " rationalistic ;" and while the terms used are thus 
vague, they are oflen applied very indiscriminately, and the tendency 
of this use of them is to depreciate the exercise of the intellectual fa- 
culties generally. The subject seems to deserve fuller consideration 
than it has yet received ; there is a real evil which the term rational- 
ism is meant to denounce ; but it has not been clearly apprehended, 
and what is good has sometimes been confounded with it, and de- 
nounced under the same name. 

1. It is important to bear in mind the distinction which Coleridge 
enforces so earnestly between the understanding and the reason. I 
do not know whether Mr. Gladstone, in the passage quoted above, 
uses the word " understanding" as sjmonymous with reason, or in that 
stricter sense in which Coleridge employs it. But the writer of the 
Tract seems to allude to the stricter sense, when he calls it a charac- 
teristic of rationalism "to base its system upon personal experience, 
on the evidence of sense." If this be the casO) then it wodd seem tiiat 



rationalism is the appealing to the decision of the understanding in 
points where the decision properly belongs, not to the understanding 
but to the reason. This is a great fault, and one to which all persons 
who belong to the sensualist school in philosophy, as opposed to the 
idealist school, would bo more or less addicted. But then, this feult 
consists not in an over-estimating of man's intellectual nature generally, 
but in the exalting one part of it unduly, to the injury of another part ; 
in deferring to the understanding rather than to the reason. 

2. Faith and reason are oflen invidiously contrasted with each other, 
as if they were commonly described in Scripture as antagonists; 
whereas faith is more properly opposed to sight or to lust, being in 
fact a very high exercise of the pure reason ; inasmuch as we believe 
truths which our senses do not teach us, and which our passions would 
have us, therefore, reject, because those truths are taught by Him in 
whom reason recognises its own author, the infallible source of all 

3. It were better to oppose reason to passion than to &ith ; for it 
may be safely said, that ho who neglects his reason, and so far as he 
does neglect it, does not lead a life of faith aflerwards, but a life of pas- 
sion. He does not draw nearer to God, but to the brutes, or rather to 
the devils ; for his passions cannot be the mere instinctive appetites of 
the brute, but derive from the wreck of his intellectual powers, which he 
cannot utterly destroy, just so much of a higher nature that they are 
sins, and not instincts, belonging to the malignity of diabolic nature, 
rather than to the mere negative evil of the nature of brutes. 

4. Faith may be described as reason leaning upon God. Without 
God, reason is either overpowered by sense and understanding, and, 
in a manner overgrown, so that it cannot apprehend its proper truths ; 
or, being infinite, it cannot discover all the truths which concern it, 
and therefore needs a farther revelation to enlighten it. But with God's 
grace strengthening it to assert its supremacy over sense and under- 
standing, and communicating to it what of itself it could not have dis- 
covered, it then having gained strength and light not its own, and 
doing and seeing consciously by God's help, becomes properly faith. 

5. Faith without reason, is not properly faith, but mere power wor- 
ship ; and power worship may be devil worship ; for it is reason 
which entertains the idea of God — an idea essentially made up of truth 
and goodness, no less than of power. A sign of power exhibited to 
the senses, might through them, dispose the whole man to acknowledge 
it as divine ; yet power in itself is not divine, it may be devilish. But 
when reason recognises that, along with this power, there exist also 
wisdom and goodness, then it perceives that here is God : and the 


worsbip whicb, without reason, might have been idolatiy, being now 
according to reason, is faith. 

6. If this were considered, men would be more careful of speaking 
disparagingly of reason, seeing that is the necessary condition of the 
existence of faith. It is quite true that when we have attained to fitith 
it supersedes reason ; we walk by sunlight, rather than by moonlight ; 
following the guidance of infinite reason, instead of finite. But how 
are we to attain to faith ; in other words, how can wo distinguish God's 
voice from the voice of evil ? for we must distinguish it to be God's 
voice before wo can have faith in it. We distinguish it, and can dis- 
tinguish it no otherwise, by comparing it with that idea of God which 
reason intuitively enjoys, the gifl of reason being God's original reve- 
lation of himself to man. Now, if the voice which comes to us from 
the unseen world agree not with this idea, we have no choice but to 
pronounce it not to be God's voice ; for no signs of power, in confirma- 
tion of it, can alone prove it to be God. God is not power only, but 
power, and truth, and holiness ; and the existence of even infinite 
power, does not necessarily involve in it truth and holiness also ; else 
the notion of the world being governed by an evil being would bo no 
more than a contradiction in terms ; and the horrible strife of the two 
principles of Manichcism would l)c a mere matter of indifference ; for 
if power alone constitute God, whichever principle triumphed over the 
other, would become G<k] by the very fact of its victory ; and thus tri- 
umphant evil would bo good. 

7. Reason, then, is the mean whereby we attain to faith, and es- 
cape the devil worship of idolatry ; but the understanding is not a ne- 
cessary condition of faith, and very oflou impedes it ; for the under- 
standing having for its basis the reports of sense and eipericnce, has 
no direct way of arriving at things invisible, and rather shrinks back 
from that world with which it is in no way familiar. It has a work to 
do in regard to revelation, and an important work ; but divine things 
not being its proper matter, its work concerning them must be subordi- 
nate, and its tendency is always to fall back from the invisible to the 
visible,— from matters of faith to matters of experience. Its work with 
respect to revelation, is this — ^that it should inquire into the truth of the 
outward signs of it; which outward signs being necessarily things vi- 
sible and sensible, fall within its province of judgment. Thus under- 
standing judges the external witnesses of a revelation : if miracles be 
alleged, it is the business of understanding to ascertain the fact of their 
occurrence ; if a book claim to be the record of a revelation, it belongs 
to the understanding to make out the origin of this book, the time when 
it was written, who were its authors, and what is the first and gram- 


matical meaning of its language. Or, again, if any men profess to be 
the depositories of divine truth, by an extraordinary commission from 
God, the understanding being familiar with man's nature and motivesy 
can judge of their credibility — can see whether there are any marks 
of folly in them, or of dishonesty, or whether they are at once sensible 
and honest. And in all such matters, the prerogative of the under- 
standing to judge is not to be questioned ; for all such points are strictly 
within its dominion ; and our Lord's words are of universal application, 
that we should render to Crosar the things which are CsBsar's, no less 
than we should render to God the things that are God's. 

Faith may exist without the action of the understanding, but nerer 
without that of the reason. It may exist independent of the understand- 
ing, because faith in God is the natural result of the idea of God ; and 
that idea belongs to the reason, and the understanding is not concerned 
with it. But when a special revelation has been given us, through hu- 
man instruments, when the understanding is called in to certify the 
particular fact, that in such and such particular persons, writings or 
events, God has made himself manifest in an extraordinary manner ; 
it is the human instrumentality which requires the judgment of the un- 
derstanding ; the bringing in of human characters, and sensible factSy 
which are matters of sense and experience ; and, therefore, it is mere 
ignorance when Christians speak slightingly of the outward and histo- 
rical evidences of Christianity, and indulge in very misplaced contempt 
for Paley and others who have worked out the historical proof of ]t« 
Such persons may observe, if they will, that where the historical evi- 
dence has not been listened to, there a belief in Christianity, properly 
so called, is wanting. Living examples might, I think, bo named of 
men whose reason entirely acknowledges t!ie internal proofs of a di- 
vine origin which arc contained in the Christian doctrines, but whose 
understandings arc not satisfied as to the facts of the Christian history, 
and particularly as to the fact of our Lord's resurrection. Such men 
are a remarkable contrast to those whose understandings are fully sa- 
tisfied of the historical truth of our Lord^s resurrection, but who are indif- 
ferent to, or actually deny, those doctrinal truths of which another power 
than the understanding must be the warrant. It is important to ob- 
serve, therefore, that in a revelation involving, as an essential part of 
it, certain historical facts, there is necessarily a call for the judgment 
of the understanding, although in religious faith simply the understand- 
ing may have no place. 

8. Now, then, the clearest notion which can be given of rational- 
ism would, I think, be this ; that it is the abuse of the understanding 
in subjects where the divine and the human, so to speak, are inter- 
mingled. Of human things the understanding can judge, of divine 


things it cannot ; and thus, where the two are mixed together, its in- 
ability to judge of the one part makes it derange the proportions of 
both, and the judgment of the whole is vitiated. For example, the un- 
derstanding examines a miraculous history : it judges truly of what I 
may call the human part of the case ; that is to say, of the rarity of 
miracles,— of the fallibility of human teBtimony,^-of the proneness of 
most minds to exaggeration, — and of the critical arguments affecting 
the genuineness or the date of the narrative itself. But it forgets the 
divine part, namely, the power and providence of God, that He is really 
ever present amongst us, and that the spiritual world, which exists 
invisibly all around us, may conceivably, and by no means impossibly, 
exist, at some times, and to some persons, even visibly. These con- 
siderations, which the understanding is Ignorant of^ would oAon modify 
our judgment as to the human parts of the case. Things not impos- 
sible in themselves are believed upon sufficient testimony ; and with 
all the carelessness and exaggeration of historians, the mass of his- 
tory is notwithstanding generally credible. Again, with regard to the 
history of the Old Testament, our judgment of the human part in it re- 
quires to be constantly modified by our consciousness of the divine 
part, or otherwise it cannot fail to bo rationalistic ; that is, it will be 
the judgment of the understanding only, unchecked by the reason. 
Gescnius' Commentary on Isaiah Is rationalistic, fur it regards Isaiah 
merely as a Jewish writer, zealously attached to the religion of his 
country, and lamenting the decay of his nation, and anxiously looking 
for its future restoration. No doubts Lsaiah was all this, and there- 
fore Gescnius' CoinniLMitary is critically and iiistoricaliy very valuable; 
the human part uf Isaiah is nowhori; boiler illustrated ; but the divine 
part of the prophecy of Isaiah is no less real, and the consciousness 
of Its existence should actually qualify our ieeliugs and language even 
with reference to the hiimaii part. 

9. 'i'hc fault, then, of ratioualism appears to me to consist not so 
much in what it has as in what it has not. The understanding has its 
proper work to do with respect to the Bible, because the Bible con- 
sists of human writings and contains a human history. Critical and 
historical inquiries respecting it are, therefore, perfectly legitimate ; it 
contains matter which is within the province of tho understanding, 
and tho understanding has Cod's warrant fordoing that work which ho 
appointed it to do ; only let us remember that the understanding cannot 
ascend to things divine ; that for these another faculty is necessary, — 
reason or faith. If this faculty bo living in us, then there can be no 
rationalism ; and what is called so is then no other than the voice of 
Christian truth. Where a man's writings show that he is keenly alive 


rationalism is the appealing to the decision of the understanding in 
points where the decision properly belongs, not to the understanding 
but to the reason. This is a great fault, and one to which all persons 
who belong to the sensualist school in philosophy, as opposed to the 
idealist school, would be more or less addicted. But then, this feult 
consists not in an over-estimating of man's intellectual nature generally, 
but in the exalting one part of it unduly, to the injury of another part ; 
in deferring to the understanding rather than to the reason. 

2. Faith and reason are oflen invidiously contrasted with each other, 
as if they were commonly described in Scripture as antagonists; 
whereas faith is more properly opposed to sight or to lust, being in 
fact a very high exercise of the pure reason ; inasmuch as we believe 
truths which our senses do not teach us, and which our passions would 
have us, therefore, reject, because those truths are taught by Him in 
whom reason recognises its own author, the infallible source of all 

3. It were better to oppose reason to passion than to &ith ; for it 
may be safely said, that he who neglects his reason, and so far as he 
does neglect it, does not lead a life of faith afterwards, but a life of pa8« 
sion. He does not draw nearer to God, but to the brutes, or rather to 
the devils ; for his passions cannot be the mere instinctive appetites of 
the brute, but derive from the wreck of his intellectual powers, which he 
cannot utterly destroy, just so much of a higher nature that they are 
sins, and not instincts, belonging to the malignity of diabolic nature, 
rather than to the mere negative evil of the nature of brutes. 

4. Faith may be described as reason leaning upon God. Without 
God, reason is either overpowered by sense and understanding, and, 
in a manner overgrown, so that it cannot apprehend its proper truths ; 
or, being infinite, it cannot discover all the truths which concern it, 
and therefore needs a farther revelation to enlighten it. But with God's 
grace strengthening it to assert its supremacy over sense and under- 
standing, and communicating to it what of itself it could not have dis- 
covered, it then having gained strength and light not its own, and 
doing and seeing consciously by God's help, becomes properly faith. 

5. Faith without reason, is not properly faith, but mere power wor- 
ship ; and power worship may be devil worship ; for it is reason 
which entertains the idea of God — an idea essentially made up of truth 
and goodness, no less than of power. A sign of power exhibited to 
the senses, might through them, dispose the whole man to acknowledge 
it as divine ; yet power in itself is not divine, it may be devilish. But 
when reason recognises that, along with this power, there exist also 
wisdom and goodness, then it perceives that here is God : and the 


worship which, without reason, might Iiave been idolatry, being now 
according to reason, is faith. 

6. If this were considered, men would be more careful of speaking 
disparagingly of reason, seeing that is the necessaiy condition of the 
existence of faith. It is quite true that when we have attained to fitlth 
k supersedes reason ; we walk by sunlight, rather than by moonlight ; 
following the guidance of infinite reason, instead of finite. But how 
are we to attain to faith ; in other words, how can we distinguish God's 
voice from the voice of evil ? for we must distinguish it to be God's 
voice before wo can have faith in it. Wo distinguish it, and can dis- 
tinguish it no otherwise, by comparing it with that idea of God which 
reason intuitively enjoys, the gifl of reason being God's original reve- 
lation of himself to man. Now, if the voice which comes to us from 
the unseen world agree not with this idea, we have no choice but to 
pronounce it not to be God's voice ; for no signs of power, in confirma- 
tion of it, can alone prove it to be God. God is not power only, but 
power, and truth, and holiness ; and the existence of even infinite 
power, docs not necessarily involve in it truth and holiness also ; elso 
the notion of the world being governed by an evil being would bo no 
more than a contradiction in terms ; and the horrible strife of the two 
principles of Manichcism would bo a mere matter of indifference ; for 
if power alone constitute God, whichever principle triumphed over the 
other, would become God by the very fact of its victory ; and thus tri- 
umphant evil would bo good. 

7. Reason, then, is the mean whereby we attain to faith, and es- 
cape the devil worship of idolatry ; but the understanding is not a ne- 
cessary condition of faith, and very often impedes it ; for the under- 
standing having for its basis the reports of souao and experience, has 
no direct way of arriving at things invisible, and ratlier shrinks back 
from that world with which it is in no way familiar. It has a work to 
do in regard to revelation, and an important work ; but divine things 
not being its proper matter, its work concerning them must be subordi- 
nate, and its tendency is always to fall back from the invisible to the 
visible,— from matters of faith to matters of experience. Its work with 
respect to revelation, is this — ^that it should inquire into the truth of the 
outward signs of it; which outward signs being necessarily things vi- 
sible and sensible, fall within its province of judgment. Thus under- 
standing judges the external witnesses of a revelation : if miracles be 
alleged, it is the business of understanding to ascertain the fact of their 
occurrence ; if a book claim to be the record of a revelation, it belongs 
to the understanding to make out the origin of this book, the time when 
it was written, who were its authors, and what is the first and gram- 


rationalism is the appealing to the decision of the understanding in 
points where the decision properly belongs, not to the understanding 
but to the reason. This is a great fault, and one to which all persons 
who belong to the sensualist school in philosophy, as opposed to the 
idealist school, would be more or less addicted. But then, this feult 
consists not in an over-estimating of man's intellectual nature generally, 
but in the exalting one part of it unduly, to the injury of another part ; 
in deferring to the understanding rather than to the reason. 

2. Faith and reason are often invidiously contrasted with each other, 
as if they were commonly described in Scripture as antagonists; 
whereas faith is more properly opposed to sight or to lust, being in 
fact a very high exercise of the pure reason ; inasmuch as we believe 
truths which our senses do not teach us, and which our passions wouM 
have us, therefore, reject, because those truths are taught by Him in 
whom reason recognises its own author, the infallible source of all 

3. It were better to oppose reason to passion than to &ith ; for it 
may be safely said, that he who neglects his reason, and so far as he 
does neglect it, does not lead a life of faith afterwards, but a life of pas- 
sion. He does not draw nearer to God, but to the brutes, or rather to 
the devils ; for his passions cannot be the mere instinctive appetites of 
the brute, but derive from the wreck of his intellectual powers, which he 
cannot utterly destroy, just so much of a higher nature that they are 
sins, and not instincts, belonging to the malignity of diabolic nature, 
rather than to the mere negative evil of the nature of brutes. 

4. Faith may be described as reason leaning upon God. Without 
God, reason is either overpowered by sense and understanding, and, 
in a manner overgrown, so that it cannot apprehend its proper truths ; 
or, being infinite, it cannot discover all the truths which concern it, 
and therefore needs a farther revelation to enlighten it. But with God's 
grace strengthening it to assert its supremacy over sense and under- 
standing, and communicating to it what of itself it could not have dis- 
covered, it then having gained strength and light not its own, and 
doing and seeing consciously by God's help, becomes properly faith. 

5. Faith without reason, is not properly faith, but mere power wor- 
ship ; and power worship may be devil worship ; for it is reason 
which entertains the idea of God — ^an idea essentially made up of truth 
and goodness, no less than of power. A sign of power exhibited to 
the senses, might through them, dispose the whole man to acknowledge 
it as divine ; yet power in itself is not divine, it may be devilish. But 
when reason recognises that, along with this power, there exist also 
wisdom and goodness, then it perceives that here is God : and the 


worship whicb, without reason, might have been idolatry, being now 
according to reason, is faith. 

6. If this were considered, men would be more careful of speaking 
disparagingly of reason, seeing that is the necessary condition of the 
existence of faith. It is quite true that when we have attained to fitith 
k supersedes reason ; we walk by sunlight, rather than by moonlight ; 
following the guidance of infinite reason, instead of finite. But how 
are we to attain to faith ; in other words, how can we distinguish God's 
voice from the voice of evil ? for we must distinguish it to be God's 
voice before we can have faith in it We distinguish it, and can dis- 
tinguish it no otherwise, by comparing it with that idea of God which 
reason intuitively enjoys, the gift of reason being God's original reve- 
lation of himself to man. Now, if the voice which comes to us from 
the unseen world agree not with this idea, we have no choice but to 
pronounce it not to be God's voice ; for no signs of power, in confirma- 
tion of it, can alone prove it to be God. God is not power only, but 
power, and truth, and holiness ; and the existence of even infinite 
power, does not necessarily involve in it truth and holiness also ; else 
the notion of the world being governed by an evil being would bo no 
more than a contradiction in terms ; and the horrible strife of the two 
principles of Manlcheism would be a more matter of indifference ; for 
if power alone constitute God, whichever principle triumphed over the 
other, would become God by the very fact of its victory ; and thus tri- 
umphant evil would be good. 

7. Reason, then, is the mean whereby we attain to faith, and es- 
cape the devil worship of idolatry ; but the understanding is not a ne- 
cessary condition of faith, and very often impedes it ; for the under- 
standing having for its basis the reports of sense and experience, has 
no direct way of arriving at things invisible, and rather shrinks back 
from that world with which it is in no way familiar. It has a work to 
do in regard to revelation, and an important work ; but divine things 
not being its proper matter, its work concerning them must be subordi- 
nate, and its tendency is always to fall back from the invisible to the 
visible,— from matters of faith to matters of experience. Its work with 
respect to revelation, is this — ^that it should inquire into the truth of the 
outward signs of it ; which outward signs being necessarily things vi- 
sible and sensible, fall within its province of judgment. Thus under- 
standing judges the external witnesses of a revelation : if miracles be 
alleged, it is the business of understanding to ascertain the &ct of their 
occurrence ; if a book claim to be the record of a revelation, it belongs 
to the understanding to make out the origin of this book, the time when 
it was written, who were its authors, and what is the first and gram- 

WAXm Xmt BEA0Olf. 

matical meaning of its langiaage. Or, again, if any men profess to he 

the depositories of divine truth, by an extraordinary commission from 
God, the understanding being familiar with man^a nature and motives, 
can judge of their credibility — can see whether there are any marks 
of folJy in thera, or of dishonesty, or whether they are at onco sensible 
And honest. And in all such matters, the prerogative of the under- 
standing to jwdge is not to be questioned ; for all such poiats are strictly 
within its dominion ; and our Lord's words are of universal applicationt 
that we should render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, no leM 
than w© should render to God the things that are God's, 

Faith may exist without the action of the understanding, but never 
without that of the reason. It may exist independent of the understand- 
ing, because faith in God is the natural result of the idea of God; and 
that idea belongs to the reason, and the understanding is not concerned 
with it. But when a special revelation has been given us, through hu- 
man instruments, when the understanding is called in to certify the 
particular fact, that in such and such particular persons, writings or 
events, God has made himself manifest in an extraordinary manner; 
it is the human instrumentality which requires the judgment of the un- 
derstanding ; the bringing in of human characters, and sensible factSt 
which are matters of sense and experience ; and, therefore, it is mere 
ignorance when Christians speak slightingly of the outward and histo- 
rical evidences of Christianity, and indulge in very misplaced contempt 
for Paley and others who have worked out the historical proof of lU 
Sueh persons may observe, if they will, that where the historical evi- 
dence has not been listened to, there a belief in Christianity, properly 
80 called, is wanting. Living examples might, T think, be named of 
men whose reason entirely acknowledges the internal proofs of a di- 
vine origin which are contained in the Christian doctrines, but whose 
understandings are not satisfied as to the facts of the Christian history, 
and particularly as to the fact of our Lord's resurrection, 8uch men 
are a remarkable contrast to those whose understandings are fully sa- 
tisfied of the historical trutli of our Lord's resurrection^ liut who are indif- 
ferent to, or actually deny, those doctrinal truths of which another power 
than the understanding must be the warrant. It is important to ob. 
senre, therefore, that in a revelation involving, as an essential part of 
it, certain historical facts, there is necessarily a call for the judgment 
of the understanding, although in religious faith simply the understand- 
ing may have no place. 

8, Now, then, the clearest notion which can be given of rational- 
ism would, I think, be this ; that it is the abuse of the understanding 
ia subjects where the divine and the human, so to speak, are inter- 
mingled. Of human things the understanding can judge, of divine 


things it cannot ; and thus, where the two are mixed together, its in- 
abilitjr to judge of the one part makes it derange the proportions of 
both, and the judgment of the whole is vitiated. For example, the un- 
derstand iiig examines a miraculous history : it judges truly of what I 
may call the human part of the case ; that is to say, of the rarity of 
miracles,^-of the fallibility of human testimony,^-of the prononess of 
most minds to exaggeration, — and of the critical arguments affecting 
the genuineness or the date of the narrative itself. But it forgets the 
divine part, namely, the power and providence of God, that He is really 
ever present amongst us, and that the spiritual world, which exists 
invisibly all around us, may conceivably, and by no means impossibly, 
exist, at some times, and to some persons, even visibly. These con* 
siderations, which the understanding is ignorant of^ would oAen modify 
our judgment as to the human parts of the case. Things not impos- 
sible in themselves are believed upon sufficient testimony ; and with 
all the carelessness and exaggeration of historians, the mass of his- 
tory is notwithstanding generally credible. Again, with regard to the 
history of the Old Testament, our judgment of the human part in it re- 
quires to be constantly modified by our consciousness of the divine 
part, or otherwise it cannot fail to bo rationalistic ; that is, it will be 
the judgment of the understanding only, unchecked by the reason. 
Gesenius' Commentary on Isaiah is rationalistic, for it regards Isaiah 
merely as a Jewish writer, zealously attached to the religion of his 
country, and lamenting the decay of his nation, and anxiously looking 
for its future restoration. No doubts Isaiah was all this, and there- 
fore Gesenius' Commentary is critically and historically very valuable ; 
the human part of Isaiah is nowhere better illustrated ; but the divine 
part of the prophecy of Isaiah is no less real, and the consciousness 
of its existence should actually qualify our feelings and language even 
with reference to the human part. 

9. The fault, then, of rationalism appears to me to consist not so 
much in what it has as in what it has not. The understanding has its 
proper work to do with respect to the Bible, because the Bible con- 
sists of human writings and contains a human history. Critical and 
historical inquiries respecting it are, therefore, perfectly legitimate ; it 
contains matter which is within the province of the understanding, 
and the understanding has God's warrant for doing that work which he 
appointed it to do ; only let us remember that the understanding cannot 
ascend to things divine ; that for these another faculty is necessary, — 
reason or faith. If this faculty be living in us, then there can be no 
rationalism ; and what is called so is then no other than the voice of 
Christian truth. Where a man's writings show that he is keenly alive 


to the divine part of Scripture, that he sees God ever in it, and regards 
it truly as his word, his judgments of the human part in it are not 
likely to be rationalistic ; and if his understanding decides according 
to its own laws, upon points within its own province, while his faith 
duly tempers it, and restrains it from venturing upon another's domin- 
ion, the result will, in all probability, be such as commonly attends the 
use of God's manifold gifts in their just proportions, — it will image, 
after our imperfect measure, the holiness of God and the truth of God. 
It is very true, and should be acknowledged in the fullest manner, 
that for the study of the highest moral and spiritual questions another 
faculty than the understanding is wanting ; and that without this faculty 
the understanding alone cannot arrive at truth. But it is no less true, 
that while there is, on the one side, a faculty higher than the under- 
standing, which is entitled to pronounce upon its defects ; ** for he that 
is spiritual judgeth all things," dyaxglvei;) so there is a clamour often 
raised against it, not from above, but from below, — the clamour of 
mere shallowness, and ignorance, and passion. Of this sort is some 
of the outcry which is raised against rationalism. Men do not leap, 
per saUum mortalem^ from ordinary folly to divine wisdom ; and the 
foolish have no right to think that they are angels, because they are not 
humanly wise. There is a deep and universal truth in St. Paul's 
words, where he says, that Christians wish " not to be unclothed but 
clothed upon, that mortality may bo swallowed up of life." Wisdom 
is gained, not by renouncing or despising the understanding, but by 
adding to its perfect work the perfect work of reason, and of reason's 
perfection, faith. 


The interpretation of John vi. 47 — 58, is of no small importance ; 
for it is remarkable, that the highest notions with respect to the pre- 
sence of our Lord in the Holy Communion often are grounded upon 
this passage, which yet in the judgment of others most decisively repels 

The whole question resolves itself into this — are our Lord's words 
in this place coordinate with the Holy Communion, or subordinate 
to it ? That is, do they and the communion alike point to some great 
truth superior to them both ; or do our Lord's words in St. John point 
to the communion itself as their highest meaning ? 

The communion itself expresses a truth above itself by a symbolical 
action ; the words of our Lord, in St. John, are exactly the same with 


that sjmbolic action ; it is natural, therefore, to understand them nol 
as referring to it, but to the same* higher truth to which it refers also : 
and the more so as the communion is not once mentioned by St. John 
either jn his Gospel or in his Epistles ; but the idea which the com- 
munion expresses appears to have been familiar to his mind ; at least, 
if we suppose that his mention of the blood and water flowing from our 
Lord's side in his Gospel, and his allusion again to the same fact in 
his Epistle, have reference in any degree to it, which seems to me 
most probable. 

Our Lord repels the notion of a literal acceptation of his words, 
where he says, — " It is the spirit which profiteth, the flesh profiteth 
nothing ; the words which I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they 
are life." It seems impossible, therefore to refer these words, which 
he tells us expressly are Spirit and life, to any outward act of eating 
and drinking as their highest truth and object. 

But the words in the sixth chapter of St. John do highly illustrate 

* The common tendency to make the Christian sacraments an ultimate end rather 
than a mean, is exhibited in the heading of the tenth chapter of the first Epistle to the 
Corinthians, in our authorised version, where we find the first verses described as 
stating, that " the Jews* sacraments were types of ours." Whereas, so far is it from 
the apo6tle*s argument to represent our sacraments as the reality of which the Jews* 
sacraments were the type, that he is describing theirs and ours as coordinate with 
each other, and both alike subordinate to the same truth ; and he argues that if the 
Jews, with their sacraments, did notwithstanding lose the reality which those sacra- 
ments typified, so we should take heed lest wc, with our sacraments, should lose it 
also. The erroneous heading is not given in the Geneva Bible, where we have, on the 
contrary, the true observation ; " the sacraments of the old fathers were all one with 
ours, for they respected Christ only.** It is true that if no more were meant than 
that ** the Jews* sacraments were like ours,** there would be no reason to object to the 
expression ; but apparently more is meant, as the word type seems to imply that what 
it is compared with is the reality, of which it is itself only the image ; and one thing 
cannot properly be called the type of another, when both are but types of the 
same third thing. But the divines of James the First's reign and of his son*s were to 
the reformers exactly what the sccalled fathers were to the apostles : the very same 
tendencies, growing up even in Elizabeth*s reign, becoming strengthened under the 
Stuart kings, and fully developed in the non-jurors, which distinguish the divines of 
the seventeenth century from those of the sixteenth, distinguish also the church sys. 
tem from the gospel. There are many who readily acknowledge this difference in the 
English church, while they would deny it in the case of the ancient church. 
Indeed, it is not yet deemed prudent to avow openly that they prefer the so-called 
fathers to the apostles, and therefore they try to persuade themselves that both speak 
the same language. And doubtless, if the Scriptures are to be interpreted accord- 
ing to the rule of the writers of the third, and fourth, and fifth centuries, the thing 
can easily be effected ; as, by a similar process, the Articles of the Church of Eng. 
land, if biterpreted according to the rule of the non-jurors and their successors, might 
be made to speak the very sentiments which their authors designed to condemn. 


the institution and purpose of the communion, and especially the re- 
markable words which our Lord used in instituting it. They show 
what infinite importance he attached to that truth which he expressed 
both in symbolical words and action under the same figure, of eating 
His body and drinking His blood. But to suppose that that truth can 
only be realized by one particular ritual action, so that the one great 
work of a Christian is to receive the Lord's Supper, — which it must be, 
if our Lord's words in the sixth chapter of St. John refer to the com- 
munion, — is so contrary to the whole character of our Lord's teaching, 
and not least so in the very words so misinterpreted, that to maintain 
such a doctrine, leading as it docs, to such manifold superstitions, is 
actually to preach another Gospel than Christ's — to bring in a mysti- 
cal religion instead of a spiritual one, — to do worse than to Judaize. 


" Some persons wish to magnify the uncertainties of the Scripture^ 
in order to recommend more plausibly the guidance of some supposed 
authoritative interpreter of it.^^ — " The high church party," we have 
been lately told, " take holy Scripture for their guide, and, in the in- 
terpretation of it, defer to the authority of primitive antiquity : the 
low church party contend for the sufficiency of private judgment." It 
is become of the greatest importance to see clearly, not what one party, 
or another, may contend for, but what is the real truth, and what ac- 
cordingly, is the duty of every Christian man to do in this matter. 
Scripture is not hopelessly obscure or ambiguous ; but it may not be 
inexpedient here to consider a little, what are the objections to the 
principle of the high church party ; to clear away certain difficulties 
which are supposed to beset the opposite principle ; and to state, if 
possible, what the truth of the whole question is. 

I. The objections to the principle of the high church party are these : 
— Its extreme vagueness. What is primitive antiquity? and where is 
its authority to be found ? Does " primitive antiquity " mean the first 
three centuries ? or the first two ? or the first five ? or the first seven 1 
Does it include any of the general councils ? or one of them ? or four? 
or six ? Are Irenajus and Tcrtullian the latest writers of " primitive 
antiquity ?" or does it end with Augustine ? or does it comprehend 
the venerable Bede ? One writer has lately told us, that our Refor- 
mers wished the people to be taught, " that, for almost seven hundred 
years, the church was most pure." Are we, then, to hold that primi- 
ti\'e antiquity " embraces a period of nearly seven centuries ? Seven 

TMADTnOV* trt 

centuries are consideiably more than a third part of the whole Af^ 
tion of the church, from its foundation to this hour : can the third piiii 
of a nation's histoiy be called its primitive antiquity ? Is a tenet, or a 
practice taught when Christianity had been more than six hundred 
years in the world, to be called primitive ? We know not, then in 
the first place, what length of time is signified by ^ primitive anti- 

But let it signify any length of time we choose, I ask, next, where is 
its authority to be found ? In the decisions of the general councils ? 
But if we call the first four centuries " primitive antiquity," we find in 
this period only two general councils ; if we include the fiflh century, 
we get four ; if we take in the sixth and seventh centuries, we have 
then, in all, six general councils. Will the decisions of any, or all of 
these six councils furnish us with an authoritative interpretation of 
Scripture ? They give us the Nicene and the Constantinopolitan creeds ; 
they condemn various notions with respect to the person of our Lord, 
and to some other points of belief; and they contain a variety of regu- 
lations for the discipline and order of the church : but, with the excep- 
tion of some particular passages, there is no authority in the creeds, 
or canons, or anathemas of these councils, for the interpretation of 
Scripture ; they leave its difficulties just where they were before. It 
is but little, then, which the first six general councils will do towards 
providing the student of Scripture with an infallible standard of inter- 

Where, however, except in the councils, can we find any thing claim- 
ing to be the voice of the church ? Neither individual writers, nor yet 
all the writers of the first seven centuries together, can properly be 
called the church. They form, even altogether, but a limited number 
of individuals who, in difiTerent countries, and at dififerent periods, ex- 
pressed, in writing, their own sentiments, but without any public au- 
thority. Origen, one of the ablest and most learned of them all, was 
anathematized by the second council of Constantinople ; Tertullian 
was heretical during a part of his life ; Lactantius was taxed with 
heterodoxy. How are we to know who are sound ? And if sound 
generally, that is to say, if they stand charged with no heretical error, 
yet it does not follow that a man is infallible because he is not hereti- 
cal ; and none of these writers have been distinguished like the five 
great Roman lawyers whom the edict of Theodosius* selected from the 
mass, and gave to their decisions a legal authority. Or, again, if it be 

* Cod. Thcodos. lib. i. tit. iv. Tho edict is issued in the name of the emperors 
Theodusius the 3roanger, and Valentinian the yonnger, in the year a.d. 426. 



said that the agreemonl of the great majority of them is to be regarded 
as decisive, wo answer, that as do individual amongst them is in him- 
aelf an authority, legally, so neither can any nuraher of them be so; 
and if a moral authority only be meant, such as we naturally ascribe 
to the concyrring Judgment of many eminent men, then this is a totally 
different question, and is open to inquiry in every separate case ; for 
as on the one hand, no one denies that such a concurring judgment is 
an authority, yet, on the other hand, h may be outweighed, either by 
the worth of the few who differ from tlie judgment, or by the reason of 
the case itself; and the concurring judgment of the majority may show 
no more than the force of a general prejudice, which only a very few 
individuals were sensible enough to resist. 

In fact, it would greatly help to clear this question if we understand 
what we mean by allowing, or denying, the authority of the so-called 
lathers. The term authority is ambiguous, and according to the sense 
in which I use it, I should either acknowledge it or deny it. — -The 
writers of the first four, or of the first seven centuries, have an au^ 
thority, just as the scholiasts and ancient commentators have : some of 
them, and in some points, are of weight singly ; the agreement of 
many of them has much weight ; the agreement of abnost all of them 
would have great weight. In this sense, I acknowledge their authority 
and it would be against all sound principles of criticism to deny it. 
But ifi by authority, is meant a decisive authority, a judgment which 
may not be questioned, then the claim of authority in such a case, for 
any man, or set of men, is either a folly or a revelation. Such an 
authority is not human, but divine : if any man pretends to possess it, 
let him show God*s clear warrant for his pretension, or he must be re- 
garded as a deceiver or a madman* 

But it may be said, that an authority not to be questioned was con- 
fcrredt by the Roman law, on the opinions of a certain number of great 
lawyers : if a judge believed that their interpretation of the law was 
erroneous, he yet was not at liberty to follow his own private judgment 
in departing from it. Why may not the same thing be allowed in the 
church ? and why may not the interpretations of Cyprian, or Athana- 
sius, or Augustine, or Cbrysostom, be as decisive, with respect to the 
true sense of the Scriptures, as those of Gains, Paulus, Modestinus, 
Ulpian, and Papinian, were acknowledged to be with respect to the 
sense of the Roman law ? 

The answer is, that the emperor's edict could absolve the judge from 
following his own convictions about the sense of the law, because it 
gave to the authorized interpretation the force of law. The text, as the 
judge interpreted it^ was a law repealed; the comment of the great 

TEABinoir. S75 

lawyers was now tbe law in its room* As a mere literary composition, 
he might interpret it rightly, and Gaius, or Papinian, might be wrong; 
but if his interpretation was ever so right, grammatically or criticaUy, 
yet, legally, it was nothing to the purpose ; — Gaius's interpretation had 
superseded it, and was now the law which he was bound to obey. But, 
in the church, the only point to be aimed at is the discovery of the true 
meaning of the text of the divine law : no human power can invest the 
comment with equal authority. The emperor said, and might say, to 
his judges, **You need not consider what was the meaning of the 
decemvirs, when they wrote the twelve tables, or, of Aquillius, when 
he drew up the Aquillian law. The law for you is not what the decem- 
virs may have meant, but what their interpreters meant : the decem- 
virs' meaning, if it was their meaning, is no longer the law of Rome." 
But who can dare to say to a Christian, ** You need not consider what 
was the meaning of our Lord and his apostles ; the law for you now is 
the meaning of Cyprian, or Ambrose, or Chrysostom ; — that meaning 
has superseded the meaning of Christ." A Christian must find out 
Christ's meaning, and believe that he has found it, or else he must still 
seek for it. It is a matter, not of outward submission, but of inward 
faith ; and if in our inward mind we are persuaded that the interpreter 
has mistaken our Lord's meaning, how can we by possibility adopt that 
interpretation in faith ? 

Here we come to a grave consideration — that this doctrine of an in- 
fallible rule of interpretation may suit ignorance or scepticism : it is 
death to a sincere and reasonable and earnest faith. It is not hard for 
a sceptical mind to deceive itself by saying, that it receives whatever 
the church declares to be true : it may receive any number of doctrines, 
but it will not really believe them. We may restrain our tongues from 
disputing them, we may watch every restless thought that would ques- 
tion them, and instantly, by main force, as it were, put it down ; but 
all this time our minds do not assimilate to them ; they do not take 
them up into their own nature, so as to make them a part of themselves, 
freshening and supplying the life-blood of their very being. Truth 
must be believed by the mind's own act ; our souls must be drawn 
towards it with a reasonable love : some affinity there must be between 
it and them, or else they can never really comprehend it. The sceptic 
may desperately become a fanatic also, but he is not become, therefore, 
a believer. 

Authority cannot compel belief ; the sceptic who knows not what it 
is to grasp any thing with the firm grasp of &ith, may mistake his ac- 
quiescence in a doctrine for belief in it ; the ignorant and careless, who 
believe only what their senses tell them, may lay up the words of divine 


truth in their memory, may repeat them loudly, and be vehement against 
all who question them. But minds to which faith is a necessity, which 
cannot be contented to stand by the side of truth, but must become alto- 
gether one with it, — minds which know full well the difference be- 
tween opinion and conviction, between not questioning and believing, — 
they, when their own action is superseded by an authority foreign to 
themselves, are in a condition which they find intolerable. Told to 
believe what they cannot believe ; told that they ought not to believe 
what they feel most disposed to believe ; they retire altogether from 
the region of divine truth, as from a spot tainted with moral death, and 
devote themselves to other subjects ; to physical science, it may be, or 
to political ; where the inherent craving of their nature may yet be 
gratified, where, however insignificant the truth may be, they may yet 
find some truth to believe. This has been the condition of too many 
great men in the church of Rome ; and it accounts for that bitterness 
of feeling with which Machiavelli, and others like him, appear to have 
regarded the whole subject of Christianity. 

The system, then, of deferring to the authority of what is called the 
ancient church in the interpretation of Scripture, is impracticable, inas- 
much as, with regard to the greatest part of the Scripture, the church, 
properly speaking, has said nothing at all ; and if it were practicable, 
it would be untenable, because neither the old councils, nor individual 
writers, could give any sign that they had a divine gift of interpretation ; 
and if such a gift had been given to them, it would have been equiva- 
lent to a new revelation, the sense of the comment being thus preferred 
to what we could not but believe to be the sense of the text. Above 
all, the system is destructive of faith, having a tendency to substitute 
passive acquiescence for real conviction ; and therefore I should not 
say that the excess of it was popery, but that it had once and actually 
those characters of evil which we sometimes express by the term 
popery, but which may be better signified by the term idolatry ; a reve- 
rence for that which ought not to be reverenced, leading to a want of 
faith in that which is really deserving of all adoration and love. 

11. But it is said that the system of relying on private judgment is 
beset by no less evils : that it is in itself inconsistent, and leads to So- 
cinianism and Rationalism, and, in the end, to utter unbelief; so that, 
the choice being only between two evils, men may choose the system 
of church authority as being the less evil of the two. If this were so, 
I see not how faith could bo attained at all, or what place would be left 
for Christian truth. But the system of the Church of England* is, I 

* Much has been lately written to show that the Church of England allowi the 
aathoriiy of the ancient councils and writers, and does not allow the right of private 


am persuaded, fully consurtent, and has no tendency either to Socinian* 
ism or Rationalism. Let us see what that system is. 

It is invidiously described as maintaining *^ the sufficiency of private 
judgment." Now we maintain the sufficiency of private judgment in 
interpreting the Scriptures in no other sense than that in which every 

jadgment But it is perfectly clear, from the 521st Article, that it docs not allow the 
aathority of councils ; that is to say, it holds that a council's exposition of doctrine 
may be false, and that such an exposition is of no force " unless it may be declared 
that it be taken out of Holy Scripture.** Who, then, is to declare this? for to sup- 
pose that the declaration of the council itself is meant is absurd : the answer, I iroa- 
grine, would be, according to the mind of the Reformers, ** Every particular or national 
church,** and especially the king as the head of the church. They would not have 
allowed private judgment, because they conceived that a private person had nothing 
to do but to obey the government ; and it was for the government to determine what 
the truth of Scripture was. The Church of England, then, expressly disclaims the 
authority c f councils, and, in its official instruments, it neither allows nor condemns 
private judgment : but the opinions of the Reformers, and the constitution of the 
church in the 16th century, were certainly against private judgment : their authority 
for the interpretation of Scripture was undoubtedly the supreme government of the 
church, not the bishops, but the king and parliament But then this had respect not 
to the power of discerning truth, but to the right of publishing it, which is a wholly 
different question. That an individual was not bound in foro corucientuB to admit 
the truth of any interpretation of Scripture which did not approve itself to his own 
mind, was no less the judgment of the Church of England than that if be publicly 
disputed the interpretation of the church, ho might be punished as unruly, and a 
despiser of government. But then it should ever be remembered that the church, 
with the Reformers, was not the clergy. And now that the right of publication it 
conceded by the church, it is quite just to say that the Church of England allows 
privato judgment ; and if that judgment differ from her own, she condemns not the 
act of judging at all, but the having come to a false conclusion. 

It is urged that the act of 1 Elizabeth, c. 1, allows that to be heresy which the four 
first councils determined to be so. This is true ; but it also adjudges to be heresy 
whatever shall be hereafter declared to be so by •' the high court of parliament, with 
the assent of the clergy in their convocation.** The Church of England undoubtedly 
allowed tiie decisions of the first four councils, in matters of doctrine, to be valid, as it 
allowed the three creeds, because it decided that they were agreeable to Scripture ; 
but the binding authority was that of the English parliament, not of the councils of 
NiciBa or Constantinople. 

As to the canon of 1571, which allows preachers to teach nothing as religious troth 
but what is agreeable to the Scriptures, ** and which the cathoUc fathers and ancient 
bishops have collected from that very doctrine of Scripture,** it will be observed that 
it is merely negative, and docs not sanction the teaching of the ** catholic fathers and 
ancient bishops** generally, or say that men shall teach what they taught ; but that 
they shall not teach as matter of religious faith, a new deduction from Scripture of 
their own making, but such truths as had been actually deduced from Scripture be- 
fore, namely, the great articles of the Christian faith. Farther, the canons of 1571 
are of no aathority, not having received the royal assent. — Strype'M Life of Parker, 
p. 332. 



sane man mainlaxns its sufficiencj, in interpreting Thucydidos or Aris- 
totle ; we mean, that, instead of deferring always to some one inter- 
preter, as an idle boy follows innpHcitly the Latin version of his Greek 
lesson, the true method is to consult all* accessible authorities, and to 
avail ourselves of the assistance of all. And we contend, that, by this 
process, as we discover, for the moat part, the true meaning of Thucy- 
dides and Aristotle with undoubted certainty, so we may also discover, 
not, indeed, in every particular part or passage, hut generally, the true 
meaning of the Holy Scriptures with no less certainty. 

But if another man maintains that a different meaning is the true 
one, how are we to silence him, and how are w© justified in calling 
him a heretic ? If by the term heretic wo are to imply moral guilt, I 
am not justified in applying it to any Christian, unless his doctrines are 
positively siiiftil, or there is something wicked, either hi iheway of dis- 
honesty or bitterness, in his manner of maintaining them. The guilt 
of any given religious error, in any particular case, belongs only to the 
judgment of liira who reads the heart. But if we mean by heresy ** a 
grave error in matters of the Christian faith, overthrowing or corrupt. 
ing some fundamental article of it," then wo are as fully justiJied in 
calling a gross misinterpretation of Scripture " heresy," as we should 
be justified in calling a gross misinterpretation of a profane Greek or 
Latin author, ignorance or want of scholarship. There is no infallible 
authority in points of grammar and criticism, yet men do speak confi. 
dently, notwithstanding, as to learning and ignorance ; Person and 
Herman are known to have understood their business, and a writer 
who were to set their decisions at defiance, and to indulge in mere ex- 
travagances of interpretation, would be set down as one who knew 
nothing about the matter. So we judge daily in all points of literature 
and science ; nay, we in the samo manner venture to call some per- 
sons mad, and on the strength of our conviction we deprive them of 
their property, and shut them up in a madhouse : yet if madmen were 
to insist that they were sane, and that we were mad, I know not to what 
infeilible authority we could appeal ; and, after all, what are we to do 
with those who deny that authority to be infallible ? we must then go to 
another infallible authority to guarantee the infallibility of the first, and 
this process will run on for ever. 

But, in truth, there is more in the matter than the being justified or 

♦ Of coime no rcasonablo man can doubt the importance of tludying the early 
Christian writcrsi as illustrating not only the hietory of their own times, but Ihc New 
Testament alao* For the Old Testament, indeed, they do little or nothmg. and for 
the New they are of mach le«a aBsiatance than might have been expected i but still 
there ia no doubt that they are often tnefuL 


not justified in calling our neighbour a heretic. The real point of anx* 
iety, I imagine, with manj good and thinking men is this ; whether a 
reasonable Delief can be fkirlj carried through; whether the notion of 
the all-sufficiencj of Scripture is not liable to objections no less 
than the system of church authority ; whether, in short, our Christian 
faith can be consistently maintained without a mortal leap at some part 
or other of the process ; nay, whether, in fact, if it were otherwise, 
our faith would not seem to stand rather on the wisdom of man than on 
the power of God. 

I use these words, because these and other such passages of the 
Scripture are oflen quoted as I have now quoted them, and produce a 
great efiect on those who do not observe that they are quoted inappli- 
cably ; for the question is not between man's wisdom and God's power, 
but simply whether we have reason to believe that God's power has 
been here manifested ; or rather, to see whether we cannot give a rea- 
son for the &ith which is in us, such faith resting upon God's power 
and wisdom as manifested in Christ Jesus ; for if no reason can be 
rendered for our faith, then our minds, so far as they are concerned, are 
believing a lie ; they are believing in spite of those laws by which God 
has determined their nature and condition. 

Yet, however we believe, blindly or reasonably, (for some men, by 
God's mercy, are accidentally, as it were, in possession of the truth, 
the falsehood of their own minds in holding it not being, it is to be 
hoped, imputed to them as a sin ;) however we believe, I never mean 
to say that our faith is not God's gifl, to be sought for and retained by 
constant prayer and watchfulness, and to be forfeited by carelessness 
or sin. That is no true faith in. which reason does not accord ; yet 
neither can reason alone and without God ever become perfected into 
faith. For although intellectually, the grounds of belief may be made 
out satisfactorily, yet we are not able to follow our pure reason by our- 
selves ; and no work on the evidences of Christianity can by itself give 
us faith ; and much less can amid the manifold conflicts of life main- 
tain it. That faith is thus the gift of God, and not our own work, I 
would desire to feel as keenly and continually, as with the fullest con- 
viction I acknowledge it. 

Now, to resume the consideration of that which, as I said, is the 
real point of anxiety with many. The doubt whether the course of a 
reasonable belief can be held to the end without interruptions : they 
say that the received notions of the inspiration, and consequently of 
the complete truth, of the Scriptures cannot reasonably be maintained ; 
that he who does maintain them does so by a happy inconsistency ;— 
he is to be congratulated for not following up his own principles ; but 


why should he then find fault with others who do that avowedly and 
consistently to which he is driven against his professions by the clear 
necessity of the case ? 

This argument was pressed by Mr. Newman, some time since, in 
one of the Tracts for the Times ; and it was conducted, as may be sup- 
posed, with great ingenuity, but with a recklessness of consequences, 
or an ignorance of mankind, truly astonishing ; for he brought forward 
all the difficulties and differences which can be found in the Scripture 
narratives, displayed them in their most glaring form, and merely ob- 
served, that as those with whom he was arguing could not solve these 
difficulties, but yet believed the Scriptures no less in spite of them, so 
the apparent unreasonableness of his doctrine about the priesthood was 
no ground why it should bo rejected — a method of argument most blam- 
able in any Christian to adopt towards his brethren ; for what if their 
faith, being thus vehemently strained, were to give way under the ex- 
periment ? and if, being convinced that the Scriptures were not more 
reasonable than Mr. Newman's system, they were to end with believ. 
ing, not both, but neither ? 

Therefore the question is one of no small anxiety and interest ; and 
it is not idly nor wantonly that we must speak the truth upon it, even 
if that truth may to some seem startling ; for by God's blessing, if we 
do go boldly forward wherever truth shall lead us, our course needs not 
be interrupted, neither shall a single hair of our faith perish. 

The same laws of criticism which teach us to distinguish between 
various degrees of testimony, authorise us to assign the very highest 
rank to the evidences of the writings of St. John and St. Paul. If be- 
lief is to be given to any human compositions, it is due to these ; yet 
if we believe these merely as human compositions, and without assum- 
ing anything as to their divine inspiration, our Christian faith, as it 
seems to me, is reasonable ; — not merely the facts of our Lord's mira* 
cles and resurrection ; bii! Christian faith, in ail its fulness — ^the whole 
dispensation of the Spirit, the revelation of the redemption of man and of 
the Divine Persons who are its authors — of all that Christian faith, and 
hope, and love can need. And this is so true, that even without reck- 
oning the Epistle to the Hebrews amongst St. Paul's writings, — ^nay, 
even if we choose to reject the three pastoral epistles* — ^yet taking only 
what neither has been nor can be doubted — the epistles to the Romans, 
Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thes- 

• I Bay this, not as having the elightest doubt myself of the genuinenen of any 
one of the three, but merely to show how much is left that has not been questioMd 
at mil, even uoieasonably. 

TKADnSOV. 381 

saloniansy we liave in tliese, together with St. John's Gospel and First 
Epistle, — ^giving up, if we choose, the other two, — a ground on which 
our faith may stand for ever, according to the strictest rules of the un- 
derstanding, according to the clearest intuitions of reason. 

I take the works of St. John and St. Paul as our foundation, because, 
in the first place, we find in them the historical basis of Christianity ; 
that is to saj, we find the fiicts of our Lord's miracles, and especially 
of his resurrection, and the miraculous powers afterwards continued to 
the church, established by the highest possible eyidence. However 
pure and trvly divine the principles taught in the gospel may be, yet 
we crave to know not only that we were in need of redemption, but 
that a Redeemer has actually appeared ; not only that a resurrection 
to eternal life is probable, but that such a resurrection has actually 
taken place. This basis of historical fact, which is one of the great 
peculiarities of Christianity, is strictly within the cognizance of the 
understanding ; and in the writings of St. John and St. Paul we have 
that full and perfect evidence of it which the strictest laws of the un- 
derstanding require. 

But the historical truth being once warranted by the understanding, 
other faculties of our nature now come in to enjoy it, and develop it ; 
the highest reason and the moral and spiritual afiections find respec- 
tively their proper field and objects, which, whenever presented to them 
in vision or in theory, they must instinctively cling to, but to which 
they now abandon themselves without fear of disappointment, because 
the understanding has assured them of their reality. We must sup- 
pose, on any system, the existence of reason and spiritual afiections as 
indispensable to the understanding of the Scriptures ; external au- 
thority can do nothing for us without these, any more than the mere 
faculties of the common understanding. But with these we apprehend 
the view which St. John and St. Paul afford to us ; it opens before us 
one truth afler another, one glory after another. St. John evidently 
supposes that bis readers were familiar with another account of our 
Lord's life and teaching ; and we find accordingly, another account ex- 
isting in the writings of the three other evangelists. One and the same 
account is manifestly the substance of their three narratives, to which 
they thus bear a triple testimony, because none of the three has merely 
transcribed the others, and none of them apparently was the original 
author of it. Thus having now the full record of our Lord's teaching, 
we find that he everywhere refers to the Old Testament as to the word 
of God, and the record of God's earlier manifestations of himself to 
man. He has cleared up those especial points in it which might have 
most perplexed us, as I shall notice more fully hereafter, and he repre- 



sents himself as the perpetual subject of its prophecies. We thus re- 
ceive the Old Testament, as it were, from his hand, and learn while 
sitting at his feet to understand the lessons of the law and the pro- 

Thus we make Christ the centre of both Testaments, and by so do- 
ing, we cannot be blind to the divinity pervading both. For the amaz- 
ing fact that God should come into the world and be in the world can- 
not by possibility stand alone ; it hallows, as it were, the whole period 
of the world's existence, from the beginning to the end, placing all 
time and every place in relation to God ; it disposes us at once to re- 
ceive the fact of the special call of the people of Israel ; — it gives, I 
had almost said, an a priori reason why there must have been in ear- 
lier times some shadows, at least, or images to represent dimly to for- 
mer generations that great thing which they were not actually to wit- 
ness ; it leads us to believe that there must have been some prophetic 
voices to announce the future coming of the Lord, or else " The very 
stones must have cried out." 

But those writings of St. John and St. Paul which were our first 
lessons in Christianity, and those other accounts of our Lord's life and 
teaching to which they introduced us,— can we conceive it possible, 
that the real meaning of all these shall be hopelessly obscure and un- 
certain ; that if we seek it ever so diligently, we shall not find it ? 
With an humble mind ready to learn, with a heart fully impressed with 
the sense of God's presence, so as to be morally and spiritually in a 
condition to receive God's truth, can we believe, then, that the use of 
those intellectual means, which open to us certainly the sense of hu- 
man writers, shall be applied in vain to those writers who were com- 
missioned to be the very heralds of a divine message, whose especial 
business it was to make known what they had themselves heard ? Sure- 
ly if a sufficient certainty of interpretation be attainable in common 
literature, the revelation of God cannot be the solitary exception. 

But we may be mistaken : we may believe that we interpret truly, 
but we cannot be infallibly sure of it ; we want an authority which 
shall give us this assurance. This is no doubt the natural craving of 
our weakness ; but it is no wiser a craving than if we were to long for 
the heaven to be opened, and for a daily sight of our Lord standing at 
the right hand of God. To live by faith is our appointed condition, 
and faith excludes an infallible assurance. We must earnestly believe 
that we have the truth, and die for our belief, if necessary, but we can- 
not know it. No device which the human mind can practise can ex- 
clude the possibility of doubt. If we would find an armour which 
should cover us at every point from this subtle enemy, it would be an 

TRABinoir. 288 

armour tbat would close up the pores of the skin, and stop our breatb ; 
our fancied security would kill us. Is it really possible that, with our 
knowledge of man's nature, our belief in any human authority can really 
be more free from doubt than our belief in the conclusions of our 
own reason ? There must ever be the liability to uncertainty ; we can 
put no moral truth so surely, as that our minds shall always feel it to be 
absolutely certain. Where is the infallible authority that can assure 
us even of the existence of God ? And will the scepticism that can be- 
lieve its own conclusions in nothing else rest satisfied with one conclu- 
sion only — that the writers of the first four centuries cannot err ? Sure- 
ly to regard this as the most certain proposition that can be submitted 
to the human mind, is no better than insanity. 

But we will consent to trust, it may bo said, with God's help, to our 
own deliberate convictions that we have interpreted Scripture truly ; 
but you tell us that the Scripture itself is not inspired in every part ; 
you tell us that there are in it chronological and historical difficulties, 
if not errors ; that there are possibly some interpolations ; that even 
the apostles may have been in some things mistaken, as in their belief 
that the end of the world was at hand. Where shall we find a rest for 
our feet, if you first take away from us our infallible interpreter, and 
now tell us, that even if we can ourselves interpret it aright, yet that 
we cannot be sure that the very Scripture itself is in&llibly true ? 

It is very true that our position with respect to the Scriptures is not 
in all points the same as our fathers'. For sixteen hundred years 
nearly, while physical science, and history, and chronology and 
criticism, were all in a state of torpor, the questions which now pre- 
sent themselves to our minds could not from the nature of the case 
arise. When they did arise, they came forward into notice gradually : 
first the discoveries in astronomy excited uneasiness : then as men 
began to read more critically, differences in the several Scripture nar- 
ratives of the same thing awakened attention ; more lately, the greater 
knowledge which has been gained of history, and of language, and in 
all respects the more careful inquiry to which all ancient records have 
been submitted, have brought other difficulties to light, and some sort 
of answer must be given to them. Mr. Newman, as we have seen, 
has made use of these difficulties much as the Romanists have used 
the doctrine of the Trinity when arguing with Trinitarians* in defence 

* On this proceeding of the Romanists, Stillingrfleet observes, *' Mcthinks for the 
sake of our common Christianity you should no more venture upon such bold and 
unreasonable comparisons. Do you in earnest think it is all one whether men do 
believe a God, or providence, or heaven, or hell, or the Trinity, and incamatioa of 
Christ, if they do not believe transubetantiation 7 We have heard much of late 


sents himself as tho perpetual subject of its prophecies. We thus re- 
ceive the Old Testament, as it were, from his hand, and learn while 
sitting at his feet to understand the lessons of the law and the pro- 

Thus we make Christ the centre of both Testaments, and by so do- 
ing, we cannot be blind to the divinity pervading both. For the amaz- 
ing fact that God should come into the world and be in the world can- 
not by possibility stand alone ; it hallows, as it were, the whole period 
of tho world's existence, from the beginning to the end, placing all 
time and every place in relation to God ; it disposes us at once to re- 
ceive the fact of the special call of the people of Israel ; — it gives, I 
had almost said, an a priori reason why there must have been in ear- 
lier times some shadows, at least, or images to represent dimly to for- 
mer generations that great thing which they were not actually to wit- 
ness ; it leads us to believe that there must have been some prophetic 
voices to announce the future coming of the Lord, or else " The very 
stones must have cried out." 

But those writings of St. John and St. Paul which were our first 
lessons in Christianity, and those other accounts of our Lord's life and 
teaching to which they introduced us,— can we conceive it possible, 
that the real meaning of all these shall be hopelessly obscure and un- 
certain ; that if we seek it ever so diligently, we shall not find it ? 
With an humble mind ready to learn, with a heart fully impressed with 
the sense of God's presence, so as to bo morally and spiritually in a 
condition to receive God's truth, can we believe, then, that the use of 
those intellectual means, which open to us certainly the sense of hu- 
man writers, shall be applied in vain to those writers who were com- 
missioned to be the very heralds of a divine message, whose especial 
business it was to make known what they had themselves heard ? Sure- 
ly if a sufficient certainty of interpretation be attainable in common 
literature, the revelation of God cannot be the solitary exception. 

But we may be mistaken : we may believe that we interpret truly, 
but we cannot be infallibly sure of it ; we want an authority which 
shall give us this assurance. This is no doubt the natural craving of 
our weakness ; but it is no wiser a craving than if we were to long for 
the heaven to be opened, and for a daily sight of our Lord standing at 
the right hand of God. To live by faith is our appointed condition, 
and faith excludes an infallible assurance. We must earnestly believe 
that we have the truth, and die for our belief, if necessary, but we can- 
not know it. No device which the human mind can practise can ex- 
clude the possibility of doubt. If we would find an armour which 
should cover us at every point from this subtle enemy, it would be an 

TRABmoir. 288 

armour tbat would close up the pores of the skin, and stop our breatb ; 
our fancied security would kill us. Is it really possible that, with our 
knowledge of man's nature, our belief in any human authority can really 
be more free from doubt than our belief in the conclusions of our 
own reason ? There must ever be the liability to uncertainty ; we can 
put no moral truth so surely, as that our minds shall always feel it to be 
absolutely certain. Where is the infallible authority that can assure 
us even of the existence of God ? And will the scepticism that can be- 
lieve its own conclusions in nothing else rest satisfied with one conclu- 
sion only — that the writers of the first four centuries cannot err ? Sure- 
ly to regard this as the most certain proposition that can be submitted 
to the human mind, is no better than insanity. 

But we will consent to trust, it may be said, with God's help, to our 
own deliberate convictions that we have interpreted Scripture truly ; 
but you tell us that the Scripture itself is not inspired in every part ; 
you tell us that there are in it chronological and historical difficulties, 
if not errors ; that there are possibly some interpolations ; that even 
the apostles may have been in some things mistaken, as in their belief 
that the end of the world was at hand. Where shall we find a rest for 
our feet, if you first take away from us our infallible interpreter, and 
now tell us, that even if we can ourselves interpret it aright, yet that 
we cannot be sure that the very Scripture itself is in&llibly true ? 

It is very true that our position with respect to the Scriptures is not 
in all points the same as our fathers'. For sixteen hundred years 
nearly, while physical science, and history, and chronology and 
criticism, were all in a state of torpor, the questions which now pre- 
sent themselves to our minds could not from the nature of the case 
arise. When they did arise, they came forward into notice gradually : 
first the discoveries in astronomy excited uneasiness : then as men 
began to read more critically, dififerences in the several Scripture nar- 
ratives of the same thing awakened attention ; more lately, the greater 
knowledge which has been gained of history, and of language, and in 
all respects the more careful inquiry to which all ancient records have 
been submitted, have brought other difficulties to light, and some sort 
of answer must be given to them. Mr. Newman, as we have seen, 
has made use of these difficulties much as the Romanists have used 
the doctrine of the Trinity when arguing with Trinitarians* in defence 

* On this proceeding of the Romanists, SUllingfleet observes, *' Methinks tor the 
sake of our common Christianity you shoald no more venture upon such bold and 
mircasonable comparisons. Do you in earnest think it is all one whether men do 
believe a God, or providence, or heaven, or heU, or the Trinity, and incarnation of 
Christ, if they do not believe transubstantiation 7 We have heard much of late 


of transubstantiation. The Romanists said, — " Here are all these inex- 
plicable difficulties in the doctrine of the Trinity, and yet you believe 
it." So Mr. Newman argues with those who hold the plenary inspi- 
ration of Scripture, that if they believe that, in spite of all the difficul- 
ties which beset it, they may as well believe his doctrine of the priest- 
hood ; and many, if I mistake not, alarmed by this representation, have 
actually embraced his opinions. 

It has unfortunately happened that the difficulties of the Scrip- 
tures have been generally treated as objections to the truth of 
Christianity ; as such they have been pressed by adversaries, and as 
such Christian writers have replied to them. But then they become 
of such tremendous interest, that it is scarcely possible to examine 
them fairly. If my faith in God and my hope of eternal life is to de- 
pend on the accuracy of a date or of some minute historical particular, 
who can wonder that I should listen to any sophistry that may be used 
in defence of them, or that I should force my mind to do any sort of 
violence to itself, when life and death seem to hang on the issue of its 
decision ? 

Yet what conceivable connexion is there between the date of Cj- 
renius's government, or the question whether our Lord healed a blind 
man as he was going into Jericho or as he was leaving it ; or whether 
Judas bought himself the field of blood, or it was bought by the high 
priests : what connexion can there be between such questions, and the 
truth of God's love to man in the redemption, and of the resurrection 
of our Lord ? Do we give to any narrative in the world, to any state- 
ment, verbal or written, no other alternative than that it must be either 
infallible or unworthy of belief? Is not such an alternative so ex- 
travagant as to be a complete reductio ad absurdum ? And yet such is 
the alternative which men seem generally to have admitted in consi- 
dering the Scripture narratives : if a single error can be discovered, 
it is supposed to be fatal to the credibility of the whole. 

This has arisen from an unwarranted interpretation of the word 
" inspiration," and by a still more unwarranted inference. An in* 
spired work is supposed to mean a work to which God has communi- 
cated his own perfections ; so that the slightest error or defect of any 

about old and new popery : but if this be the way of representing new popeiy, by 
exposing the common articles of faith, it will set tiie minds of all good Christians fiair- 
thcr from it that ever. For upon the yery same grounds wo may expect another 
parallel between the belief of a God and transu^^stantiation, the cffisct of which will 
be the exposing of all religion. This is a ve*' j destructive and mischievoai method 
of proceeding ; but our comfort is that it is very unreasonable, as I hope bath fiilly 
appeared by this diBCoune.''--I>ocf nne o/ the, Triniiy and TranwbtUmtUikm i 

YMADinoif. 985 

kind in it is inconceivable, and that which is other than perfect in all 
points cannot be inspired. This is the unwarranted interpretation of 
the word ** inspiration." But then follows the still more unwarranted 
inference, — '^ If all the Scripture is not inspired, Chrlstianitj cannot be 
true," an inference which is absolutely entitled to no other considera- 
tion than what it maj seem to derive from the number of those who 
have either openly or tacitlj maintained it. 

Most trulj do I believe the Scriptures to be inspired ; the proofe of 
their inspiration rise continually with the study of them. The scrip- 
tural narratives are not only about divine things, but are themselves 
divinely framed and superintended. I cannot conceive my conviction 
of this truth being otherwise than sure. Tet I must acknowledge that the 
Scriptural narratives do not claim this inspiration for themselves ; so that 
if I should be obliged to resign my belief in it, which seems to me im- 
possible, I yet should have no right to tax the ^Scriptures with having 
advanced a pretension proved to be unfounded ; their whole credibility 
as a most authentic history of the most important facts would remain 
untouched ; the gospel of St. John would still be a narrative as unim- 
peachable as that of Thucydides, which no sane man has ever dis- 

So much for the unwarranted inference, that if the Scripture histo- 
ries are not inspired, the great facts of the Christian revelation cannot 
be maintained. But it is no less an unwarranted interpretation of the 
terra " inspiration," to suppose that it is equivalent to a communica- 
tion of the Divine perfections. Surely, many of our words and many 
of our actions are spoken and done by the inspiration of God's Spirit, 
without whom we can do nothing acceptable to God. Tet does the 
Holy Spirit so inspire us as to communicate to us His own perfections t 
Are our best words or works utterly free from error or from sin ? All 
inspiration does not then destroy the human and fellible part in the 
nature which it inspires ; it does not change man into God. 

In one man, indeed, it was otherwise ; but He was both God and 
roan. To Him the Spirit was given without measure ; and as his life 
was without sin, so his words were without error. But to all others 
the Spirit has been given by measure ; in almost infinitely difierent 
measure it is true : the difference between the inspiration of the com- 
mon and perhaps unworthy Christian who merely said that *' Jesus 
was the Lord," and that of Moses, or St Paul, and St. John, is almost 
to our eyes beyond measuring. Still the position remains, that the 
highest degree of inspiration given to man has still suffered to exist 
along with it a portion of human fallibility and corruption. 

Now, then, consider the epistles of the blessed Apostle St Paol, 


who had the Spirit of God so abundantly, that never we maj suppose 
did any merely human being enjoy a larger share of it Endowed 
with the Spirit of a Christian, and daily receiving grace more largely, 
as he became more and more ripe for glory ; endowed with the Spirit's 
extraordinary gifls most eminently ; favoured also with an abundance 
of revelations, disclosing to him things ineffable and inconceivable, — 
are not his writings to be most truly called inspired ? Can we doubt 
that, in what he has told us of things not seen, or not seen as yet, — 
of Him who pre-existed in the form of God before he was manifested 
in the form of man, — of that great day, when we shall arise incorrup- 
tible, and meet our Lord in the air, and be joined to him forever, — 
can any reasonable mind doubt, that in speaking of these things he 
spoke what he had heard from God ; that to refuse to believe his tes- 
timony is really to disbelieve God ? 

Yet this great Apostle expected that the world would come to an 
end in the generation then existing. When he wrote to the Thessa- 
lonians some years before his first imprisonment at Rome, he warned 
them, no doubt, against expecting the end immediately : but he ap- 
pears still to have supposed that it would come in the lifetime of men 
then living. At a later period, when writing to the Corinthians, his 
dissuasion of marriage seems to rest mainly upon this impression ; it 
is good not to marry, '^ on account of the distress which is close at 
hand ;" di^ t^v heaiiaaav dvdLyxfjy ; compare 2 Thess. ii. 2, 6g or* 
ivecrrr^xev ^ f)u£Qa jov Kvgiov, " The time is short," he adds ; " the 
fashion of this world is passing away." And again, when speaking 
of the resurrection, he says emphatically ** the dead shall rise incor- 
ruptible, and we shall be changed ;" where the pronoun being ex- 
pressed in the original i^.^fig dXlaytjadfieda, shows that by the term, 
"tre," he does not mean the dead, but those who were to be alive at 
Christ's coming. So again, still later, when writing from Rome to the 
Philippians, he tells them '^ the Lord is at hand ;" and later still, even 
in his first Epistle to Timothy, he charges Timothy " to keep his com- 
mandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord 
Jesus Christ." These and other passages cannot without violence be 
interpreted even singly in any other sense ; but taking them together, 
their meaning seems absolutely certain. Shall we say, then, that St. 
Paul entertained and expressed a belief which the event did not verify; 
We may say so, safely and reverently, in this instance ; for here he 
was most certainly speaking as a man, and not by revelation ; as it 
has been providentially ordered that our Lord's express words on this 
point have been recorded — " Of that day and hour knoweth no man ; 
no, not the angels in heaven." Or again, shall we say, that St. Paul 


adyised the Corinthians not to marrj, ehieflj on this ground ; and that 
this throws a suspicion over his directions in other points ; But again 
it has been ordered, that in this very place, and no where else in all 
his writings, St« Paul has expressly said that he was onlj giving his 
judgment as a Christian, and not speaking with divine authority ; — the 
concluding words of the chapter, douGt di xiy^ nwevfia Gtou Mxetpj do 
not signify, as our Version renders them, ** And I think also that I have 
the Spirit of God," as if he were confirming his own judgment bj an 
assertion of his inspiration in a sense beyond that of common Chris- 
tians ; but the words say, " And I think that I too have the Spirit of 
God," — '' I too as well as others whom you might consult, so that my 
judgment is no less worthy of attention than theirs. But it is his 
Christian judgment only that he is giving, as he expressly declares, 
and not his apostolical command or revelation ; a distinction which he 
never makes elsewhere, and which is in itself so striking, that we. seem 
to recognise in it God's especial mercy to us, that our faith in St. 
Paul's general declarations of divine truth might not be shaken, be- 
cause in one particular point he was permitted to speak as a man, 
giving express notice at the same time that he was doing so. 

Now it is at least remarkable, that in the only two instances in 
which the existence of any absence of divine authority is to be dis- 
cerned in St. Paul's epistles, provision is actually made by God's good- 
ness to prevent them from prejudicing our faith in St Paul's divine aU' 
thority generally. And so in whatever points any error may be dis- 
coverable in Scripture, we shall find either that the errors are of a kind 
wholly unconnected with the revelation of what God has done to us, 
and of what we are to do towards Him ; and therefore are perfectly 
consistent with the inspiration of the writer, unless we take that un- 
warranted notion of inspiration which considers it as equivalent to a 
communication of God's attributes perfectly ; and of this kind are any 
errors that may exist either in points of physical science, or of chrono- 
logy, or history ; or if there be anything else which appears inconsis- 
tent with inspiration, in the sense in which we really may and do apply 
it to the Scriptures, namely, that they are a perfect guide and rule in 
all matters concerning our relations with God, then we shall find that 
God has made some special provision for the case, to remove what it 
otherwise might have had of real difficulty. 

This merciful care is above all to be recognised with regard to one 
point, which otherwise would, I think, have been a difficulty actually 
insuperable : I mean the manifestly imperfect moral standard, which in 
some cases is displayed in the characters of good men in the Old Tes- 
tament. Put the gospel by the side of the law and history of the Is-^ 

268 THADinON. 

raelites ; observe what the law permitted, and public opinon under the 
law did not condemn ; observe the actions recorded of persons who are 
declared to have been eminently good, and to have received God's 
especial blessing ; and it is manifest that had not our Lord himself 
vouchsafed his help, one of two things must have happened— either 
that we must have followed the old heresy of rejecting the Old Testa- 
ment altogether, or else that our respect for the Old Testament must 
have impeded the growth of the more perfect law of Christ. The true 
solution I do not think that we could have discovered, or ventured to 
admit on less authority than our Lord's. But his express declaration, 
that some things in the law itself were permitted, because nothing 
higher could then have been borne, and his stating in detail that in 
several points what was accounted good or allowable in the former 
dispensation was not so really, while at the same time he constantly 
refers to the Old Testament as divine, and confirms its language of 
blessing with respect to its most eminent characters, has completely 
cleared to us the whole question, and enables us to recognise the di- 
vinity of the Old Testament and the holiness of its characters, without 
lying against our consciences and our more perfect revelation, by justi- 
fying the actions of those characters as right, essentially and abstract- 
edly, although they were excusable, or in some cases actually virtuous, 
according to the standard of right and wrong which prevailed under the 

After observing God's gracious care for us in this instance, as weQ 
as in those which I have noticed before, I cannot but feel that we may 
safely trust Him for every other similar case, if any such there be, and 
that he will not permit our faith either in Him or in his holy word to 
be shaken, because we do not attempt to close our eyes against truth, 
nor seek to support our &ith by sophistry and falsehood. Feeling what 
the Scriptures are, I would not give unnecessary pain to any one by 
an enumeration of those points in which the literal historical statement 
of an inspired writer has been vainly defended. Some instances will 
probably occur to most readers ; others are perhaps not known, and 
never will be known to many, nor is it at all needful or desirable that 
they should know them. But if ever they are brought before them, let 
them not try to put them aside unfairly, from a fear that they will in- 
jure our faith. Let us not do evil that evil may be escaped from ; and 
it is an evil, and the fruitful parent of evils innumerable, to do violence 
to our understanding or to our reason in their own appointed fields ; to 
maintain falsehood in their despite, and reject the truth which they 
sanction. If writers of Mr. Newman's school will persist in display, 
ing the difiiculties of the Scripture before the eyes of those who had 

TBAsmoif. 289 

not been before aivare of them, let ihote who are so craellj tempted be 
conjured not to be dismayed ; to refuse utterly to surrender up their 
sense of truth, — to persist in rejecting the unchristian falsehoods which 
thej are called upon to worship ; sure that after all that can be said, 
that system will remain false to the end ; and their Christian &ith, if 
they do not faithlessly attempt to strengthen it by unlawfiil means, will 
stand no less unshaken. 

In conclusion, Christian faith rests upon Scripture ; and as it is in 
itself agreeable to the highest reason, so the authenticity of the Scrip- 
tures on which it rests is assured to us by the deliberate conclusions of 
the understanding ; nor is any *' mortal leap" necessary at any part of 
the process ; nor any rejection of one truth, in order to retain our hold 
on another. And if it should happen, as in all probability it will, that 
we shall be called upon to correct in some respects our notions as to 
the Scriptures, and so &r to hold views diflbrent from those of our fiu 
thers, we should consider that our fathers did not, and could not stand 
in our circumstances ; that the knowledge which may call upon us to 
relinquish some of their opinions, was a knowledge which they had not* 
Till this knowledge comes to us, let us hold our &thers' opinions as 
they held them ; but when it does come, it will come by God's will, 
and to do his work : and that work will, assuredly, not be our separa« 
tion from our fathers' fiuth ; but if we follow God's guidance humbly 
and cheerfully, clinging to God the while in personal devotion and obe- 
dience, we may be made aware of what to them would have been an 
inexplicable difficulty, and which was, therefore, hidden fitnn their 
knowledge ; and yet, "through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we 
believe that we shall be saved even as they." 






This Essay was origioallj delivered as a Lecture before the Mechanics' Institute at 

Rugby, in 1838. 

In an institution such as this, the^ lectures delivered embrace a great 
variety of subjects, and they are given without anj order or mu- 
tual connexion. Different views of the great world of knowledge are 
thus presented to us : but all are necessarily partial, nor do they tell 
us how they are to be joined to one another, in order to convey a just 
notion of the whole. Even an imperfect attempt therefore to show the 
connexion or relation between them, seemed to me to be desirable ; 
that we may understand what is the value of the several branches of 
knowledge, as helping to make up the great sum of human wisdom ; 
and may also see, which is a point of no small importance, what sort of 
knowledge it is which particularly entitles its possessor to be called a 
well educated man. 

Now this slight statement of the object of this lecture shows that we 
are going to venture on an inquiry of a very high order, inasmuch as it 
embraces not the subjects of any one or more of the sciences, but the 
nature and merits of those very sciences themselves. This sovereign 
investigation, in which the mind may be said to exert the very fulness 
of its power, examining at once the world of outward things and its 
own faculties and operations, standing apart as it were from all things 
visible and invisible, and as if by a mere abstract power of observa- 
tion, looking at once above and below, around and within itself, this it 
is which is properly called philosophy. 

First then, with a subject before us so extensive and so various, it 
will be necessary to break it up into certain divisions, that our minds 
may be able to comprehend it. This process of philosophical division 
admits of very considerable variety. We are not to suppose that there 
are only a certain number of divisions in any subject, and that unless 
we follow these, we shall divide it wrongly and unsuccessfully : on the 


contrary every sabject is as it were all joints, it will divide wherever 
we choose to strike it, and therefore according to our particular object 
at different times we shall see fit to divide it very dififerently. For in- 
stance, let us suppose that our subject be the vegetable creation ; we 
shall see that this subject is divided differently, according to our different 
objects in studying it. If we consider vegetables only with reference 
to the uses which man can derive from them, we should divide them 
first into such as are useful to him directly, and such as are not : and 
the former again we should divide into such as are useful for food, such 
as are useful for clothing, and such as minister to our various wants in 
other ways. But in this division we should class some vegetables 
together which on another view of the subject we should find it neces- 
sary to separate, and separate others which on another view of the 
subject we should be obliged to class together. For instance, on the 
view of the subject already noticed, we should class wheat, and the 
potato, and the grape, and fig, under one division, that of vegetables 
useful for man's food ; and should of course separate them from such 
plants as are incapable of being applied to the same purpose. But if we 
consider vegetables without any reference to man, and merely accord- 
ing to the differences or resemblances in their own structure, in other 
words if we consider them botanically, the wheat, the potato, the 
grape, and the fig, notwithstanding their common usefulness, are imme- 
diately separated from one another ; the wheat is classed along with 
the g)-asses which feed our cattle, the potato and the vine are ranked 
with the nightshade and the henbane, and the fig is placed in the same 
division as the ash tree. 

Bearing this in mind, we shall see that the various branches of 
human knowledge are capable of the most different arrangements ac- 
cording to the light in which we wish to regard them. Bacon, for 
instance, makes a three-fold division of them, which he derives from a 
similar divisiop of the powers or operations of the human mind, into 
the memory, the imagination, and the reason. Accordingly he divides 
all knowledge into history, poetry, and science or philosophy ; the first 
belonging to the memory, the second to the imagination, and the third 
to the reason. Another division has been adopted in a work still in 
the course of publication, the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana ; a division 
of which the author was, I believe, the late Mr. Coleridge. He first 
divides all science into pure and mixed. By pure science he means 
such as is conversant merely with the acts of the mind in itself by 
mixed science that which considers these acts in connexion with the 
outward world. The pure sciences again he divides into formal and 
real ; under the first of which he places grammar, logic, arithmetici 


and geometry ; under the second are ranged metaphysics, morals, and 
theology. I am aware that this brief statement must be obscure ; but 
mj object in making it is to illustrate the truth, that human knowledge 
may be divided variously according to the purpose of the divider ; and 
I wished to draw attention to the division into formal and real science, 
for I shall have occasion to make use of these terms hereafter, and shall 
then attempt to eiplain them. 

For my present object, which is to give such a division as may be 
most readily and generally understood, I know not that I could adopt a 
better method than to divide our knowledge into such as relates to man, 
and such as relates to other objects of what kind soever, animate or 
inanimate. But when I speak of man, I mean that part of him which 
is peculiar to himself, namely, his intellectual and moral nature. For 
the study of his mere bodily frame, or of the phenomena of his physical 
life, is but a small part of one great whole, of which by far the greatest 
part relates to objects distinct from himself, and therefore the study may 
generally be classed more properly with those which relate to external 
things. Thus the knowledge which relates to man would naturally 
include every thing relating to his double nature, as a being having an 
understanding, and a moral part which we may call for convenience a 
spirit. Thus it would in the first place embrace the study of his mind ; 
the analysis of its faculties and ideas, which is metaphysics ; the analy- 
sis of the processes of his reason, which is logic ; and the analysis of 
language, the instrument which he necessarily employs in these pro- 
cesses, which is grammar. Secondly, it would embrace the study of 
his moral nature ; the analysis of his feelings and affections ; which 
like that of the faculties of his understanding may be classed under 
metaphysics ; and the analysis of his duties. This last, so long a^his 
duties towards God are not understood, is the part of ethics or morals : 
but as soon as we are acquainted with God, and with our relations to 
Him, all our duties, whether towards God or man, are properly to be 
classed under one name, that of religion ; because it is manifest that 
all our duties to other men are duties to God, and that whatever we 
ought to do is our duty for this very reason, because it is the will of 
God that we should do it. 

Besides the study of man's nature in general, knowledge relating to 
man would also embrace a knowledge of the actions, characters, and 
fortunes of particular parts of mankind, whether larger or smaller. 
Under this head are to be ranked History, with all its subdivisions and 

Then turning to the other great division of human knowledge, the 
knowledge that relates to all other objects besides ourselves ; here too 

mrrvAL bsljltiimrs of knowlbbob. fM 

the one Tast whcde Uuu presented to our imaginationa may be broken 
up into Tarioos parts. It will include Natural History in its widest 
sense, including not only the animal and vegetable kingdoms, but the 
mineral also, and even the earth itself. But when we speak of the 
history of animals and plants, we must remember that here history is 
wholly distinct from biography. Amongst creatures without reason, 
whether animate or inanimate, one individual is like another ; history 
with them regards only the species. Nor is chronology much more 
connected with them than biography ; for the oak and lion of the pre- 
sent day are the same, so &r as we can discover, as the oak and the 
lion of the first year of the world's existence. Time has only wrought 
changes in some few cases, through the agency of man, as in the 
diango affected in particular vegetables by cultivation, and perhaps in 
one or two instances in animals also, by the attention bestowed on im- 
proving the breed. With the history of the earth, on the contrary, 
chronology is everything. Here there are constant changes working, 
altering the limits of land and water, and in some instances, where vol- 
canic agency is busy, or where particular phenomena of wind and soil 
are combined, actually altering the character of the land, as well as 
lessening or increasing its limits. But still in all history there is this 
conmion point, that its principal business is to describe &cts as they 
are or have been, rather than to enter into causes or general principles. 
And thus the natural historian looks as it were but on the outward edifice 
of nature : it belongs to other branches of knowledge to penetrate with- 
in the sanctuary. 

It will be obvious that what is most needed for Natural Histoiy is 
careful observation. If we want to know more of an animal than we 
can collect from one simple view of it, we must examine it more care- 
fully, and watch its habits for a considerable time together. Thus the 
very amusing account which Huber has given us of bees, was the re- 
sult of constantly watching them ; so that he made himself as it were 
an eye-witness of the whole life of the animal. So again in Geogra- 
phy which is the histoiy of the surl^e of the earth. Ail that is wanted 
in order to draw a map of a country, is to bestow s^ifiicient pains on 
surveying it ; it is a long book which takes a great deal of time to 
read, but still all the information is to be found in the book, if we have 
but patience to read it through. But we want to do more than this 
with nature, we want not only to see what she is, bat to understand 
how and why she. is so, that we may be able ourselves to form her or 
reform her for our own purposes. Water, and air, and light, are tlungf 
which the most ignorant of us ei^y, but not all understand them. The 


sk J with its hosts of stars must strike every one as heautiful, but to 
how few is there more of order apparent in that bright multitude, or 
regularity in their movements, than in the wild dance of a swarm of 
fireflies. Thus on every side above us and around us, there are mate- 
rials not for observation only but for thought and reasoning ; we may 
not only mark and learn the visible result produced by God's working, 
but observe the laws by which He works, that here too we may after 
our most imperfect measure learn to work like Him. 

In ascending then from Natural History to Natural Philosophy, the first 
laws that would be inquired into would be those of a most obvious as 
well as most extensive class of phenomena, the phenomena of Motion. 
I use this term in its widest sense, as embracing the motions of the 
heavenly bodies no less than of earthly, as including the motion of 
fluids, such as air and water, as well as of solids. With regard to the 
heavenly bodies, their movements were indeed almost the only point in 
which human science could study them. The laws which preside over 
these movements formed the greatest part of the inquiries of Astronomy ; 
as the laws which direct the movements of earthly bodies were, in the 
case of solids, the subject of Mechanics ; and in the case of fluids, the 
subject of Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, and Optics. In all those instances 
there is this point in common : that we are considering those laws 
which act upon bodies from without, and produce in them a change of 
place only, and not of quality. We are therefore still, if I may so 
speak, at the outside of things, examining their movement only, and 
not their composition. It is possible, however, to go farther than this, and 
to examine another class of phenomena, those namely in which bodies 
are found to change not their place only but their quality, a change evi- 
dently of a deeper kind, and belonging to causes of a diflerent character. 
And here we come to those studies in which such great progress has 
been made in our own generation ; Electricity, with its kindred sub- 
jects Magnetism, and Galvanism, and Chemistry. How little progress 
had been made till a very recent period in the examination of the na- 
ture of bodies as opposed to their movement, may be well understood 
from this fact, that in the popular works on science which were in cir- 
culation in our own childhood, fire, air, earth and water, were still 
represented as the four elements of the universe. To what point the 
inquiry into these subjects may be carried hereafter, it seems impossi- 
ble to anticipate ; the doctrine of atoms appears indeed to be bringing 
us to the very elements of physical existence ; while the study of the 
phenomena of Electricity, of Magnetism, and above all of what is called 
Animal Magnetism, seems to promise that in the course of years, or it 


may be of centuries, we maj arrive at some glimpses of a yet liigher 
mjsteiy, the relations of physical and moral existence towards each 
other, and the principle of animate life. 

The study of external nature then, that is, of all things existing ex- 
cept ourselves, seems to divide itself first of all into two great divisions. 
History and Science : by the first of which I mean a mere record or 
description of facts or existing phenomena in the natural world, whether 
animate or inanimate ; while by the second, I understand an inquiry 
into the laws or causes by which these phenomena are regulated. But 
Science again admits of a double division, inasmuch as its inquiries 
may either regard the movements of bodies, or their component parts 
and qualities ; that is, to speak generally, it may consider them as 
afiected mechanically or chemically. So then the divisions of all our 
knowledge of nature may be said to be three. Natural History, Mechani- 
cal Science, and Chemical Science, using all these terms for conve- 
nience sake in a sense rather wider than that which they bear in 
common language. 

It would seem then that the range of natural knowledge is sufficiently 
extensive, and its subjects sufficiently sublime. To soar to the utmost 
limits of visible space, to measure the movements of the host of heaven, 
and on the other side to penetrate into the. subtlest laws of being, and 
to analyse matter up to its very original elements, might surely be 
enough to vindicate the dignity of the study of nature. But the Greek 
philosophers exalted it yet further, by making it ascend not only to the 
purest forms of physical existence, but higher still, to the nature of God 
Himself. And undoubtedly, according to that grand division of all 
knowledge which I have adopted, the knowledge of man on the one 
hand, and of all other objects except man on the other, the knowledge 
of God might seem to take its place fitly as the last ascent of natural 
philosophy, and so the study of nature might infinitely transcend in dig- 
nity the study of man. But I would request your attention to this 
point, as it will be the foundation of all I have to say on the remaining 
part of my subject, the relations namely of the diflferent divisions of our 
knowledge to one another. I request attention to this great truth, that 
God considered in this point of view, as the summit of the scale of 
existence, as the most exalted of all beings, and therefore in Himself 
the noblest object of knowledge, that God regarded in this manner is 
wholly beyond our reach, unapproachable and incomprehensible. No 
doubt He is the head as well as the author of all being ; the fit com- 
pletion of the pyramid of the knowledge of the universe is that it should 
end in that point of perfection of unity, the One Great Cause of all. 
But this pyramid is like that unfinished tower of Babel ; its top never 


can reach to God. It stands for ever manifestly incomplete, yet inca- 
pable of being completed ; for the power which reared all the rest of 
the fabric can neither find nor lay in its place that last and crowning 
stone. God thus hiding Himself altogether from the sight of natural 
knowledge, reveals Himself only as a part, if I may so speak, of our 
knowledge of man ; first as the fountain of all our duties, and so the 
perfection not of our natural knowledge but of our moral ; and secondly 
in that great truth of the Christian Revelation, that as man alone he is 
to be known, or is in any way comprehensible. 

We thus remove the centre of all our system from the division of 
natural knowledge to that of moral ; and thus our view of the relations 
of the different branches to one another becomes greatly modified. 
That is, wo get to regard all science, whether natural or moral, as a 
matter of duty rather than of simple knowledge : the knowledge being 
in all cases referable to a farther end, that is, our duty in compliance 
with God's will. For as on the one hand it is possible to regard 
all moral questions as a matter of simple science, inquiring into the 
actions and fortunes of man, and analysing his passions and faculties 
and duties purely for the sake of speculative truth, as if we were the 
inhabitants of another planet ; so it is no less possible to regard all 
physical knowledge as a matter of practice ; studying the phenomena, 
and inquiring into the laws of irrational and inanimate bodies not for 
the mere intellectual pleasure of discovering truth, but because the dis- 
covery of truth is more or less our duty according to the nature of our 
calling, for the benefit of others du-ectly, or indirectly, or for the im- 
provement of our own powers of mind, that so we may act our part in 
life more efficiently. 

And thus while we see that no knowledge whatever is to be despised, 
and while we rejoice in the cultivation of all science of whatever kind, 
we yet cannot but perceive also, that thus looking upon all nature as 
ministering in a manner to man, and the knowledge of it as valuable 
because it ministers to his happiness, if other knowledge ministers to 
his happiness more, and more universally, then that knowledge must 
be deemed as yet more valuable than the knowledge of nature, and the 
possession of it must be considered essential to perfect education. 

This is universally understood with regard to what is called religious 
knowledge, which every one allows to be beyond dispute the most 
valuable of all. It will be my object here to show that it is true also 
of those studies to which Coleridge gives the name of the pure sciences, 
and which he divides as I have said before, into those which he calls 
formal and real. 

The pure sciences are all engaged either with mind, or with tbe 

mrriTAL sblatiomi of xxowlbdgs. M7 

operations, or with the ideas and abstractions of the mind ; none of 
them have to do with real material nature. Now the human mind 
may fitlj be called that great and universal machine by which we ope- 
rate upon all things. We all know the Guae which was so deserrediy 
obtained by the late Mr. James Watt, for his great improvements in the 
steam engine. The value of the steam engine consists not only in the 
magnitude of its powers, but in the generality of their application. It 
is useful not for one purpose only, but for hundreds. How different 
are the callings of the cotton manu&cturer, the brewer, and the packet* 
master or coach proprietor ; yet steam serves the purposes of them alL 
Now if the steam engine be so general an instrument, the human mind 
is yet more so. Nothing absolutely can be done without it, and who 
can set bounds to what may be done with it ? In improving then this 
universal engine we are conferring a service on mankind, something 
the same in kind with the improvement of the steam engine, but in 
degree and extent of usefulness beyond all comparison greater. 

Unhappily, however, there has either been no James Watt to perfect 
this mightier engine ; or his directions have been despised or neglected ; 
or mind being less manageable than iron and steam, the engine has 
refused to be moulded according to the model proposed for its improve- 
ment. For it is notorious that minds of equal natural power are most 
unequal in their practical efficiency, and that many persons with con- 
siderable talents and favourable opportunities are unable to avail them- 
selves of either to any good purpose, because the cultivation of their 
mind has been whoUy neglected. Now the mind is a universal instru- 
ment through its reasoning powers, its judgment, and its power of rapid 
and extensive combination. By the reasoning powers, I understand 
the faculty of coming to a true conclusion from premises or data which 
are undisputed ; the power of making the most of our materials of 
knowledge. As a familiar and most admirable example of this I may 
refer to the Elements of Euclid : all that we set out with in this case 
are three simple postulates, or things required to be granted ; and from 
these three are drawn by the strictest process of reasoning all that 
variety of truths respecting the propeilies of triangles, circles, dec., 
which fill a whole volume. Now all these truths are really contained 
in the postulates, axioms, and definitions of the two first pages ; yet 
how few persons would have been able to discover and to prove them. 
This has been done by the power of reasoning ; the power, that is, of 
finding out all the truths which lie hidden in any fkcts or principles 
presented to us, and of avoiding felse conclusions ; that is, the sup- 
posing certain truths to be contained in our principles which reaUy do 
not exist in them. A good reasoner then is he who draws from the 




data, or premise f, or evidence before htm, all that may justlj be drawn 
from them, and nothing which may not. 

Now as the human mind is eager to gain freah knowledge, positive 
fUiilts in reasoning have been quite as common as negative j that is, 
men have come to wrong conclusions quite as often as they have failed 
to discover all the right ones. This evil, of positively bad reasoning, 
of concluding what cannot bo justly concluded, arises from a want of 
a due acquaintance with the instrument necessarily used in every pro- 
cess of reasoning, namely, language* And hence appears the import, 
ance of those two studies which teach us to analyse language, logic and 
grammar* Language is indeed a w^ondcrful instrument, but the very 
facility of using it with a certain degree of eifect, for we all talk and 
occasionally argue, is apt to conceal from us the difficulty of acquiring 
a perfect command of it. We constantly find persons both speaking 
and writing vaguely : using words in different senses, or in no well 
defined sense at all, without being aware of it ; and as never having 
analysed the process of correct reasoning, arguing in a manner at ran- 
dom, and supposing that to be a proof, or an answer to an objection, 
which in reality is not so. These are faults for which the study of 
grammar and of logic is the appropriafo remedy. In both we take lan- 
guage to pieces, examine its structure, and learn to appreciate and 
recognise those defects to w^ilch it is most liable. In logic especiaUyi 
we learn what may be called the skeleton of reasoning, tlmt simple 
form which however concealed under the more ornamental form of otir 
common style of talking or writing, as the actual skeleton is concealed 
by our flesh, can never be reaUy departed from without involving a 
fallacy. Knowing this skeleton accurately, we can in an instant feel, 
even through the covering, the fiesh, so to speak, of our ordinary lan- 
guage, whether all the bones are in their right places, nay, w^e know 
where to suspect disorder, and by passing our probe at once to the sua. 
pected part, w*e can see whether or no all is sound* These suspicious 
parts in reasoning, to speak generally, are first what may be called the 
joint of the argument, the point of connexion between the premises and 
the conclusion, and secondly, any abstract terms which are found to 
occur often in the reasoning. For men's notions about such terms 
being often indistinct, it happens that they do not always use them in 
the same sense, and thus may deceive both others and themselves, by 
a word's imperceptibly shifting its meaning in the course of their argu- 
ment, and a thing in reality different being thus passed off as the same. 

Logic anrl ilrammar then, as putting us on our guard against the 
fiillacies of language, are the great means of cultivating our reasoning 
powers. And they are eaUed formal sciences, as opposed to real be- 


caase they treat not of any particular thing or matter, but of those forms 
of speech and of reasoning which apply equally to all matter ; they 
are moulds into which we may put any material that we will, but with- 
out which none whatever can be shaped properly. 

Such are the studies which the mind requires to perfect its reason* 
ing powers by which it unfolds truth already acquired and recognised. 
All reasoning must set out from some fixed point supposed to be true ; 
and its business is to see what other hidden truths may be developed 
from the truth so granted or assumed. Unhappily, however, the mind 
is not only liable to error in this process, but the supposed truth itself, 
which is the foundation of our reasoning, may have been assumed un- 
justly ; we may be wrong in the stating of the sum as well as in the 
working of it. But here no formal science will be sufficient for us : 
for though there is one common form for all reasoning, yet things 
themselves are so infinitely various, and their truth is collected in so 
many difierent ways, that no one rule can be applicable to all. The 
judgment therefore, that power of the mind by which we take cogni- 
zance of truth, and transmit it, having stamped upon it our sanction, to 
our reasoning powers to coin as it were into other truths, can only be 
probably guided, not infallibly secured from error. But how is this 
guidance to be given it ? How is this task, which most peculiarly 
deserves the name of education, to be accomplished ? What is that 
great preparation which can dispose the mind, amidst the delusiona 
with which we are surrounded, to fix on truth with a sure instinct, and 
to avoid error. 

Error, according to Bacon's comparison, may originate in ourselves 
or without us ; outward objects may not communicate a faithful image 
to us, or our own minds like a broken or uneven mirror may distort 
the image presented to them. Truth may not be to be found, or we 
may be in no fit condition to receive it. 

What then are the hindrances in our own minds to receiving truth ? 
Bacon divides them into three principal classes, which he calls the spec- 
tres or phantoms of the race, of the den, and of the mariiet place. The 
fancifulness of these names is characteristic of the man : but their 
meaning is not the less admirable. The phantoms of the race are 
those prejudices or tendencies to error which are common to the whole 
race of mankind ; the phantoms of the den are those which grow out 
of the peculiar weakness of each man's individual mind : and those 
of the market place are such as arise from our communication with 
other men, from the vagueness and ambiguities of language. 

With the last kind we have no concern, as they have been noticed 
before. The other two demand the greatest attentioDi but my limits' 



will not allow me to do more than just to point oyt llieir importanc 
Among the common errors of our race may be noticed, 1st, that houA 
dage of our minds to our senses, hy which the v bible and tli 
present always prevails over the invisible and the absent ; that g^eal 
moral corruption which the Scripture calls unbelief: 2nd, that craving] 
after general truths or principles, which makes us fonn theories hastily/ 
upon insufficient evidence, and without noticing what makes against ^ 
them: and 3rd, the abuse of a princicle most true in itself, that truth 
and goodness are identical ; a principle which becomes the fruitful 
parent of error, when setting up blindly and imperfectly our own stan* 
dard of goodness, wo will allow nothing to be true which seems to us 
to contradict it. These three, the spirit of unbelief, the spirit of im* 
patience, and the spirit of bigotry, are common to all mankind, and we 
are all more or less aflbcted by them. 

Not less important to notice are the phantoms of the den, the ten- 
deocies of each man's individual constitution of mind. For example, 
how great are the differences between men, according as imagination 
or observation has most power over them. This diflerence separates 
the man of feeling and sentiment from the man of fact and reality ; 
the poet from tlie man of science ; the idealist school of philosophy 
from the sensualist ; the admirer of names and associations from the 
lover of positive rights ; the firantic from the sceptic. How apt are 
these two classes to sneer at and rail against one another; to tax each 
other with folly, and with hardness, and low*mindednDss ! How 
earnestly should wo labour, if our imagination and feelings be pre- 
domlnent, to steady and sober them with the love of fact, and reason, 
and justice ; or if observation and reasoning be our natural tendency, 
how heartily should we strive to soften and ennoble them by admira- 
tion and love of the beautiful, and faith in the invisible. 

These instances, for I can but just allude to them, will show the dis* 
cipline which our owii minds require, to clear them from the common 
erroneous tendencies of our nature, as well as from those which infest 
ourselves individually. But whilst thus making the mirror of our own 
minds even and pure to receive the image of truth when presented to 
us ; there is a further difficulty stilJ, in extricating that form entire and 
unsoiled from the mass of confusion and error in which it so often lies 
buried. There is in the first place the dilEculty of getting at the truth 
of facts ; and then at the truth of opinions : and again there is the 
great question whether the truth of any opinion be eternal or only tem* 
porary ; for it may be that a doctrine may be very true as applied to 
one time or place, which would be very felse as applied to another. 
Thirdly there is the comparison of truths, which in practice Is every 


thing ; when two statements of principle are alike true in themselTes, 
but are not both practically true with regard to us ; because the less of 
two good things becomes a positive evil if we follow it to the neglect 
of the better ; as for instance, a doctrine may be perfectly true as far 
as regards political economy, but not true as regards the happiness of a 
people speaking morally and religiously. Here then comes in the com- 
parison of truths : for the economical truth becomes a practical false- 
hood if we follow it to the neglect of the moral truth. Let us observe then 
how many things are required for the perfecting of this great faculty 
of the mind, the judgment of truth, with which we are now concerned. 
To ascertain the truth of facts requires a knowledge of the laws of 
evidence ; what makes a testimony credible, and what makes it suspi- 
cious. To estimate the value of opinions requires, over and above our 
knowledge of human nature in general, a particular knowledge of 
the efiect which circumstances have upon men's opinions, circum- 
stances whether of time or country. For instance it has often 
been made a question whether the opinions of ancient or modem 
times are entitled to most respect; now this question, setting 
aside its ridiculous vagueness, might even, if asked with regard 
to any two definite periods, require a different answer according to 
the diflTerent opinions about which the dispute turned ; for it is veiy 
possible that the opinion of one age might be most valuable on one 
point, and that of another upon another. Again, to know whether an 
opinion is true generally or partially, requires in itself no slight 
acquaintance both with the distinguishing characteristics of eternal 
and partial truth, and with the circumstances of different times and 
countries, and the bearings of those circumstances upon the truth in 
question ; for a truth may be only local or temporary, and yet may 
apply to two countries or to two periods differing in many respects from 
one another, but not in those particular respects which afiect the appli- 
cation of the truth to their case. Further the comparison of truth, 
renders it necessary that our standard of duty and of good should be 
clearly settled ; that knowing what is the highest truth, and what the 
subordinate and inferior, we may never follow that lower good which, 
when opposed to the higher, becomes evil. 

Besides the reasoning powers and the judgment, I spoke of the 
power of rapid and extensive combination, as one of the things 
which enabled the mind to be an universal instrument. Perhaps, 
strictly speaking, I ought not to give it a distinct place, for it is in many 
cases essential towards forming a sound judgment : but its great im- 
portance may justify me in bestowing some separate notice upon it. 
We live in a world so varied, that without this power of combinatioa 


our views must be exceedingly narrow, or exceedingly confused. They 
must be narrow, if confining ourselves to one class of subjects and of 
relations, we understand them indeed in themselves thoroughly, 
so far as they can be understood thoroughly, without consider- 
ing them as acting or acted on by other things, but are wholly 
ignorant of all others ; they must be confused, if studying variously, 
and receiving ideas from many diflferent sources, we let them lie 
confusedly upon one another, without arranging them into one great 
whole. The power of combination may be said to consist in a quick 
perception of likeness : in two diflferent subjects we discern some one 
point bearing a resemblance to a common third : we group them to- 
gether, and then notice their disagreements as well as their agree- 
ments. And this goes on continually with a multiplied power ; for the 
more ideas we have thus grouped together in our minds, the more 
points are offered to which some new idea may attach itself; as in a 
child's card sheep-fold, the more cards you add, the more you multiply 
points on which to join fresh cards still. This power of combination 
is most essential to the profitable reading of history, for unless we 
combine the lessons afforded by the story of one age or country with 
those afforded by that of others, our recollection of one will confuse 
that of the others, they will probably be all imperfectly remembered, 
and most certainly all will be imperfectly understood. 

If any of my hearers be surprised at the great number of elements 
thus required to perfect the human mind as an instrument (for all that 
I have been saying has borne on this point only ; I have spoken no- 
thing of any particular knowledge as useful to ourselves or others, 
except as far as regards its bearings on the powers of the mind ;) let 
them learn to think more highly than men commonly do think of the 
full meaning of the term education, and let them not over-estimate the 
value of the attempts that are now making in various ways to give in- 
formation to the people, including such institutions as this of ours. 
Simple knowledge of any the humblest trade may enable us to be use- 
ful to others, to maintain our families, and if it be followed as our ap- 
pointed line of duty, to glorify God. But considered as instruction, 
as information, as in short an intellectual acquisition, the value of the 
knowledge communicated, be it of chemistry, be it of astronomy, be 
it of geography, be it of history, depends on the powers and on the 
education of the receiving mind. Elnowledge is the material for the 
mind to work upon ; but if the instrument be blunt or out of order, 
what avails the fineness of the material ! it continues stuff unwrought 
and useless. Further, we shall have seen that education in the proper 
sense of the word cannot be given equally to a great number of per- 
sons. You may teach them the formal sciences indeed ecjually, so 


that their reaaoning powers may be cultimted alike ; but you cannot 
do the same with their judgment or their power of combination. For 
the judgment depending greatly on a knowledge of men, and the power 
of combination increasing with the number of ideas presented to it, 
they who by circumstances are confined to a limited sphere, who see 
little variety, who have never associated with many highly cultivated 
minds, and above all with minds cultivated under difi^rent circumstan- 
ces of rank, profession, and country, must labour under disadvantages 
which no mere book instruction can remove. But at the same time it 
is important to see how much mere book instruction can do, if it be 
applied wisely. If we read the works of great men, philosophers, or 
orators, poets, historians, or divines, the works of great men, whose 
own views are large and profound, whose minds have combined ac- 
tively a great variety of ideas, and beautifully expressed them ; and if 
we read them with our minds alive and awake to catch and to under- 
stand, we are not only, as has been oflen remarked, in a better society 
than is easily to be found amongst living men, but we gain a far wider 
and truer experience of men, and of things than is gained oflen times 
by a whole life of active intercourse with what is called the world. 
And not to speak of foreign writers, what a treasure of wisdom and of 
experience is to be gained from the works of Bacon, his Essays and 
his Advancement of Learning ; from the conversation of Johnson as 
recorded by Boswell, far more indeed than from his writings ; from the 
Aids to Reflection, and the Literary remains of Coleridge, from the 
Sermons of Butler ; from the Poetry of Milton and of Shakspeare. 
Only let us read with a mind attentive and inquiring ; let us for in- 
stance always acquaint ourselves with the age in which the writer 
lived, with something of the circumstances of his life and the pecu- 
liarities of his character. And when I speak of the age in which he 
lived, I do not speak of a knowledge of a mere date, which is good for 
nothing ; as for instance that Bacon was born in 1560, and died in 
1626 ; but an idea of what that period was, what events Bacon saw, and 
with what men he held intercourse, how remote from, or how like to our 
own. An inquiring spirit is not a presumptuous one, but the very 
contrary : He whose whole recorded life was intended to be our per- 
fect example, is described as gaining instruction in the Temple by 
hearing and asking questions : the one is almost useless without the 
other. We should ask qnestions of our book and of ourselves ; what 
is its purpose ; by what means it proceeds to efifect that purpose : 
whether we fully understand the one, whether we go along with the 
other. Do the arguments satisfy us, do the descriptions convey lively 
$]id dbtinct images to us ; do we understand all the allusions to per- 


sons or things ? in short does our mind act over again from the writer's 
guidance what his acted before ; do we reason as he reasoned, con- 
ceive as he conceived, think and feel as he thought and felt ; or if not, 
can we discern where and how far we do not, and can we tell why we 
do not? 

And now in conclusion, if the mind be thus cultivated and exercised, 
we stand as it were on the edge of the great garden of knowledge, 
free to turn on which path we choose, with an instrument of surpass- 
ing power to make any portion of it yield its fruits for our nourish- 
ment and enjoyment. Happily indeed the choice is fixed for most 
of us, our calling in life decides for us the particular branch 
of knowledge, whether physical or moral, which we are most required 
to study. And inclination or accidental circumstances may farther sug- 
gest such branches as we may choose to study besides, in such hours 
of leisure as we can command. Only it is clear that in whatever it is 
our duty to act, those matters also it is our duty to study ; there are 
many things of which we must all be ignorant, many of which we 
may be ignorant because there are other studies which we prefer to 
follow : but there are two things of which, unless we wholly go out of 
the world, we may not be ignorant without great blame, our duties as 
men and as citizens. And thus the very matters which concern us 
most nearly, are exactly those on which the rules of this and other 
similar institutions forbid us to enter. I do not dispute the expediency 
of these rules, or to speak more correctly, their necessity, in the pre- 
sent state of party feeling, both religious and political : but so long as 
they are observed, it is idle to call Mechanics' Institutes places of adult 
education. Physical science alone can never make a man educated ; 
even the formal sciences, invaluable as they are with respect to the 
discipline of the reasoning powers cannot instruct the judgment ; it is 
only moral and religious knowledge which can accomplish this. And 
if habitually removing such knowledge from the course of our studies, 
we exercise our thoughts and understanding exclusively on lower mat- 
ters, what will be the result, but that when we come to act upon these 
higher points, in our relations as citizens and as men, we shall act 
merely upon ignorance, prejudice, and passion ? For notions of moral 
good and evil of some sort or other we must have ; and so also in this 
country we can hardly help having some notions about political good 
and evil ; but if we take no pains that these notions shall be true and 
good, what will our lives be but a heap of folly and of sin ? This 
should be borne in mind carefully ; and if these merely scientific or 
literary institutions appear to us to be sufficient for our instruction, if 
having learnt all that they can teach us, the knowledge so gained shall 


hide from us our moral ignorance, and make us look upon ourselves as 
educated men, then thej will be more than inefficient, or incomplete ; 
thej will have been to us positively mischievous. But if we are well 
aware of their deficiencies, and take them only at their real value, 
they may furnish us with some knowledge that may be of use to us in 
our several callings, and they may undoubtedly give us some innocent 
and wholesome recreation. They may do more than this, however, if 
they encourage in us habits of unimpassioned inquiry ; if they make 
us hold commune with our minds, and teach us to feel the difierence be- 
tween understanding a subject and not understanding it. In this man- 
ner they may prepare us for the study of those higher matters on which 
they themselves do not enter ; they may make us feel our ignorance 
where we are ignorant, and the vagueness of our notions where they 
are vague : they may thus preservq us from presumption on the one 
hand, and yet, by stimulating the desire of knowledge, may save us 
from an idolatrous leaning upon human authority on the other; so 
helping to cherish a state of mind at once docile and inquiring, which 
best becomes us both as men and as Christians. 





This disquisition is the First Appendix to Thncydidce, Volume I. 

Thucyd. I. 13. TvpawtSu iv raU irdXetrt icaOiVrayro, r&v rpoff6iav iuii6»av y^Y^^I^^' 
vuiV irfdrtpov 61 Jiaav liri friToTi ylpaai narpiKal PaaiktXau 

The change described in these words is so important, and bears so 
much on the right understanding of the history, not only of Greece, but 
of all other nations, that I have thought it deserving of a fuller con- 
sideration than it could receive in a note. Its importance consists in 
this, that it is a natural period in history, marking the transition of 
every country from what I may call a state of childhood to manhood. 
Now states, like individuals, go through certain changes in a certain 
order, and are subject at different stages of their course to certain pe- 
culiar disorders. But they differ from individuals in this, that though 
the order of the periods is regular, their duration is not so ; and their 
features are more liable to be mistaken, as they can only be distin- 
guished by the presence of their characteristic phenomena. One state 
may have existed a thousand years, and its history may be full of 
striking events, and yet it may be still in its childhood : another may 
not be a century, old, and its history may contain nothing remarkable to 
a careless reader, and yet it may be verging to old age. The know- 
ledge of these periods furnishes us with a clue to the study of history, 
which the continuous succession of events related in chronological 
order seems particularly to require. For instance, in our own history 
we are ai)t to take certain artificial divisions, such as the accession of 
the different lines of kings, or an event like the restoration, which is 
rather a subdivision of one particular period, than the beginning or 
termination of a period in itself. And in this manner we get no dis- 
tinct notions of the beginning, middle, and end of the history of a 
people, and often appeal to examples which are nothing to the pur- 
pose, because they are taken from a different stage of a nation's exis- 
tence from that to which they are applied. 


I take then the words which I have quoted at the beginning of thb 
essay, and shall proceed to notice the critical period described in them, 
the period, namely, when wealth begins to possess the ascendancy for- 
merly enjoyed by nobility ; and the contending parties in the state as- 
sume the form of rich and poor, the few and the many, instead of the 
old distinction of nobles and commons, of a conquering race and a 

This ascendancy, enjoyed in the earliest state of society by noble 
birth, has been traced in various countries, and its phenomena most 
successfully investigated by Giovanni Battista Vice* in his Prmcipi 
di Scienxa nuova ; a woric disfigured indeed by some strange extrava- 
gancies, but in its substance so profound and so striking, that the little 
celebrity which it has obtained out of Italy is one of the most re- 
markable facts in literary history. Vice's woric was published in 
1725, yet I scarcely remember ever to have seen it noticed by any 
subsequent writers who have touched upon the same subject even 
down to our own times. 

The statement of Thucydides with respect to Greece, contains, it 
may be seen, no mention of any period of aristocratical government ; 
but describes the transition as taking place from limited hereditary mo- 
narchies to tjrrannies : it may appear therefore to a superficial observer 
that nobility enjoyed no such ascendancy as I have imagined, and that 
the very first case to which I apply my theorem disproves its truth. 
But the old Homeric monarchies were in fact an instance of power de- 
pending on blood, and therefore of the ascendancy of nobility. They 
were like the feudal monarchies of modem Europe, essentially aristo- 
cracies, in which the separation of all the chiefs or nobles from the 
inferior people was fiir more strongly marked than the elevation of the 
king above his nobles. Nay, if we consider Greece as a whole, and 
remember the small space included within the limits of the several 
kingdoms in the heroic ages, the kings, as they are called, resemble 
the feudal vassals of France and Germany, each supreme over a do- 
minion as extensive as the Greek kingdoms, and forming together a 
body widely separated from the commons, and whose members were 
felt to belong to the same class, and to be on a level with each other 
in purity of blood, however great might have been the difiTerences be- 
tween them in power and connexions. It was virtually then the ascen- 

* I mention Vico because his work is not generally known. My obligratioos to the 
great writers of Germany, to Nicbuhr, Mailer, Wachsmuth, &c., it is almost na- 
necessary to mention ; as, since the publication of their works, it would imply strange 
presumption or strange ignorance to write upon ancient history without having 
studied them. 


dancy of nobilitj, when all power and distinction were confined to the 
class of nobles, whether there was one individual elevated above the 
rest of his class with still higher power and distinction, or whether all 
the members of it exercised the sovereignty jointly and alternately. 
>^ So in other countries the same state of society has varied more or less 

! in its subordinate relations, and yet, if carefully examined, will be 

found everywhere to retain its essential character, and to mark the first 
period, or youth, of political existence. Some of these varieties it may 
not be uninstructive to notice, and to trace the causes which have led 
to them. The simplest and probably the earliest form was that in 
which the offices of the chief and priest were united in the same per- 
sons, as in the heroic times in Greece, and in the well known instance 
of Melchisedek, king of Salem, at a far more remote period. This is 
the first transition from domestic or patriarchal to something like civil 
society ; and if the several sons of a patriarch established themselves 
in separate habitations, they would each become the chiefs and priests 
of their immediate followers. But in the course of a few generations, 
if the united body of these little societies happened to settle in another 
country, and the dangers of their new situation forced them to choose 
some one chief for their common leader, yet still the other chiefs would 
remain as widely distinguished as before from the mass of the people, 
and would still retain their sacred and sovereign character, although its 
exercise was limited to their own particular tribe, and somewhat ob- 
scured by the greater elevation of the king of the whole nation. Nay, 
even when the posterity of these original nobles was so multiplied that 
many of them were necessarily excluded from an active share in the 
government, still they did not lose the distinction of their birth : they 
were naturally eligible to public offices, to priesthoods, and to com- 
mands in war, if they did not actually enjoy them ; and their equality 
was maintained by their right of meeting in a general assembly, to 
control, if need were, those of their body to whom the executive au- 
thority had been delegated, and by being exempt from any judicial sen- 
tence of the greater chiefs, or kings, unless the firee voices of their 
own equals, or peers, had first declared them guilty. This first form of 
aristocracy, in which civil and military command were united with the 
office of priest, existed, besides the instances already noticed, in Rome 
and in Etruria ; in the former along with the habitual appointment of a 
king ; in the latter, the purely aristocratic form generally prevailed, 
and a king, or chief of the whole nation, was only chosen in seasons 
of peculiar difficulty. 

Another and later form of the ancient aristocracies was that in which 
the offices of priest and chief were distinct from one another, as in In- 

ram social nomwam ov gTATBs. 809 

dia, in Persia, in Egypt, in ancient Gaul, and in the feudal king[doaifl 
of modern Europe. The origin of this separation of powers, was jwo- 
bably various. In some instances it maj have been produced bj the 
invasion of a ruder people, who while they took to themselves the pos- 
session of the land and the civil and military government, yet learned 
to respect the superior knowledge of the old inhabitants, and left to 
their chiefs the dignity and influence of the priesthood, while they de- 
prived them of their actual power as rulers and leaders in war. This 
was the case in the foundation of the modem feudal kingdoms : the 
Gaulish or Roman clergy* preserved and increased their rank and in- 
fluence under the Frank invaders, while the property of the soil, the 
sceptre, and the sword, were transferred almost entirely to the con- 
querors. Thus also the Median magi continued to enjoy their reli- 
gious preeminence and immunities under the Persian kings, while all 
other classes of the Median nation were shorn of their supremacy, and 
held an inferior rank under the Persians. In other cases the separa- 
tion of the two powers arose from the character of the national reli- 
gion. In a rude people, religion, unless supported by the art of its 
ministers, holds but a low place in public estimation : he who was 
chief and priest would value himself upon the former character much 
more than upon the latter : his priestly duties would be in time devolv- 
ed upon persons of an inferior classf , to spare himself the trouble of 
performing them ; or, if retained, would be used as mere engines of 
state crafl for the maintenance of his own civil superiority. Thus 
among the ancient Scythians we read of no priests at all ; that is, the 
chiefs either performed the sacrifices themselves, or devolved them, as 
a menial duty, upon their servants : among the Anglo-Saxons there 
were priests, but as they formed no order in the state, as they were not 
allowed to carry arms, or to ride but on a mare, it should seem that they 
were only an inferior class, the mere ministers at the sacrifices, on 
whom the chiefs had thrown the performance of a duty which they dis- 
dained to execute themselves. The existence of prophets among both 
the Scythians and Saxons, as of certain prophetic families among the 
ancient Greeks, must not be mistaken for a priesthood. The priestly 
and prophetic character were not necessarily connected with one an- 
other ; and the latter was not like the former held to be communica- 
ble only by decent. Besides, that impatience to penetrate into futuri^, 

* See Hallam, Middle Ages, voL i. p. 146, ed. 8vo. Thteny, Conqadte de TAn- 
gteterre par les NormaDds, tome i p. 32, iuc 

t As in the stoiy of the Potitii of Rome, whow family was rappoaed to have be- 
eome extinct as a punishment for their profatneiiesg in devolfingr their heieditaiy 
priesthood upon public slaves. Livy, I 7. 


which has in every age and country encouraged pretensions to pro- 
phecy, is quite distinct from those feelings of reverence and devotion 
which are the salt of religion even in its worst corruptions. Prophets 
or fortune-tellers might exist among a people too brutish to have any 
conceptions of religion, as they have peculiarly marked the lowest 
tribes of negroes, and the degraded race of the gypsies. In these in- 
stances, then, the separation of the offices of priest and chief would 
arise from the rudeness of the people, and the want of any external or 
internal recommendations in the religion itself. But the more com- 
mon form of separation arose from the very opposite cause. In pro- 
portion as religion was valued ; as its ceremonies were more imposing ; 
as the necessity of fixing the period of its festivals led to the study of 
astronomy ; and as men's minds, thus saved from sinking into barba- 
rism, retained the traditions of older times, and preserved in their de- 
votions something more worthy of Him who is the true object of all 
worship ; so would the priest-chiefs of the people esteem their priest- 
hood above their civil and military authority, and would especially pre- 
fer their peaceful and sacred duties to the exercises and combats of 
arms. Hence, whilst they ministered at the temples of the gods, pre- 
sided at festivals, and perhaps awarded punishments and settled differ- 
ences between man and man, as the representatives of the gods, they 
appointed persons less distinguished and less sacred to lead out the peo- 
ple to battle*, and sometimes would fix upon some warlike stranger, 
whose adventures in arms had spread his renown, and who, living by 
his sword, was ready to offer his services to any who could hold out a 
worthy recompense. Military conunand thus conferred was sure to be- 
come ere long political sovereignty ; but the king thus raised could not 
venture to invade the old privileges, or diminish the ancient dignity of the 
priestly order ; the priests still remained the highest class in the statef, 

* It appears that ono of the principal reasons which made the Israelites change 
their earlier government into a monarchy, was a wish that the loader of their armies 
should be the first man in the state, and not, as had been hitherto the case, subordi- 
nate to the religious authorities. For although Samuel was not a priest, yet still in 
his government the religious character predominated over the civil and military, as 
was naturally the case where the religion was so pure and elevated in its principles as 
amongst the Israelites. 

t As in India, Egypt, Gaul, and Attica. The military caste in Egypt held their 
lands from the sovereign. (Compare Herodot. ii. 168, and Genesis zlvii. 20—23.) In 
Attica the BupatridaB and Geomori corresponded to the priests and military class of 
Egypt ; whereas in the colonies which were founded when society was more advanced, 
and when the distinctions of blood had yielded to those of property, the Geomori, or 
military landowners, formed the first and most aristocratical olass. Compare Hera^ 
dot vii. 155. Thucyd. viii. 21. 


and the military leaden and aoldien, who received for their lerncas 
grants of land from the sovereign, on the tenure of joining his standard 
whenever he should summon them, and who thus became the founders 
of a new nobility, inseparably connected with territorial property, held 
notwithstanding only the second rank. Still, however, so general was 
the aristocratical spirit in early times, the territorial nobility adopted 
the feelings and institutions of the earlier priest-nobles in their earnest- 
ness to preserve their blood pure from any mixture with the classes be- 
low them ; intermarriages were forbidden, and the mass of the commu- 
nity were as carefully excluded by the military nobles from all civil 
and military power, as they were by the priesthood from all religious 
authority, and from the knowledge of which the priestly order were 
then the sole possessors. 

A third form of aristocracy, later perhaps than either of the two al- 
ready noticed, retained some of their features, while in other points it 
resembled the most recent form of all, the aristocracy of colonies* 
The third form then I may call, by way of distinction, the aristocracy 
of conquest. An invading people occupies the country of a people of a 
different race : the old inhabitants either seek a refuge elsewhere, or 
are reduced to a state of vassalage ; nor does even their religion sur- 
vive the common wreck. The conquerors introduce their own institu- 
tions, differing in their internal relations according to the circumstances 
of their previous condition, but establishing always one and the same 
relation between them and their subjects, the relation of nobility and 
commonalty.* Inferior leaders, or even common soldiers of distin- 
guished bravery, in the conquering army, acquired lands, and became 
territorial nobles with respect to the conquered people ; while, on the 
other hand, the common interest and common dangers of the invaders 
drew them all more closely together, and diminished or destroyed those 
distinctions of rank which might have existed between them in their 
former country. A nobility of race succeeds to that of family ; and is 
guarded from corruption by the same restrictions upon intermarriage 
with persons not noble, that is to say, not of the conquering people. It 
will be observed that in all these cases the ascendancy of blood is still 
the prevailing principle, insomuch that even when partially interrupted) 
in one case by the admission of a military leader and his followers to 
share the sovereignty of the priest nobles, and in the other by the cir* 

* This was the oase with the Dorians in Peloponnessus after the conquest, as also 
with the Normans in England. ** Les valets de Vhomme d*amies Nonnand, soil 
^cuyer, son porte^Iance, furent gontilshommes ; ils furent des hommes nobles et ooo- 
sidtfables aupres du Saxon autrefois riche, autrefois noble luLmdme, tn*»"t «n n ff t 
eouM BOUi I'ep^ de r^tranger," Slc Thieny, tome i. p. 343. 



curostances of iLe con(|uest naty rally impairing all artificial distinc- 
lione between the conquerors themselves, still it soon recovered jta 
force, and proved only to have formed for itself a new channel, in 
which it continned to flow with even an increase of strength and rapid- 
ity* In fact, nobility having taken property not so much into its alli- 
ance as into its service, Btrengthening itself w^ith the real power of 
wealth, yet making noble descent a necessary qualification, without 
which political power was unattainable, established itaelf on a firmer 
bftsis, and opposed a barrier to the advance of popular principles which 
long delayed their triumph, and rendered it in the end incomplete. 

The ascendancy thus enjoyed by noble blood was not merely the 
fruit of the natural respect which men feel for the eons, and even for 
the descendants, of those who have been illustrious in their generation. 
Two other powerful causes contributed to it ; the one, a real superi- 
ority of military prowess or wisdom, such as at this day distinguishes 
the European from the Hottentots or the natives of New South Wales, 
and which has ever accompanied certain races of mankind as com- 
pared with others ; the other may be found in the doctrines of a false 
religion, which, having first made to itself gods of men, taught as a 
consequence of this doctrine, that the posterity of the men thus deified 
were, them selves of a higher order than the bulk of mankind, and wore 
more valued and loved by the god ivho in his mortal state had been 
their progenitor- Of these two causes, the one was wholly founded on 
falsehood; the other rested on w^hat was true once, but it was a truth 
not eternal and necessary, but temporary and contingent ; a truth the 
term of whoso existence it became those who profited by it to do their 
best to abridge. Differences of race have not yet been proved inde- 
structible, and the probability is that they might be removed or infi- 
nitely lessened, if the members of the superior race showed half as 
much eagerness in elevating and enlightening the inferior, as they 
have generally done in degrading them. But the guilt of all aristocra- 
cies has consisted not so much in their original acquisition of power, 
as in their perseverance in retaining it ; so that what was innocent or 
even reasonable at the beginnings has become in later times atrocious 
injustice ; as if a parent in his dotage should claim the same authority 
over his son in the vigour of manhood, which formerly in the maturity 
of his own faculties he had exercised naturally and profitably over the 
iniancy of his child. 

The principle then of the ascendancy of noble blood necessarily 
marks the infancy of mankind ; and wherever it has long continued to 
exist, it marks a state of infancy unnaturally prolonged by the selfish 
policy or crjmijial neglect of thoie who ought rather to have gradually 


trained it up to the independence of manhood. I now proceed to ei« 
amine the course of circumstances hj which this aristocratical domin- 
ion has been overthrown ; hj what untoward causes the critical periods 
of this overthrow have in manj instances onlj led to a worse and more 
hopeless disorder ; and how, in other cases, the purposes of God for 
the progress of the human race have been better answered, and the 
moral and political constitution, when recovered from the shock of its 
crisis, has gone on healthfully towards the full perfection of its being. 
For this purpose then it will be necessary to trace the origin and pro- 
gress of the estate of the ComcoNs, noticing particularly those causes 
which influenced its condition, and which served in some cases to en- 
sure and complete its victory, or in others impeded its natural growthf 
and have kept it in a state of perpetual insignificance. 

The earliest form of the existence of the commons appears to be 
that in which they were no other than the slaves of the chiefs or no- 
bles. This form appears in the numerous households of the heads of 
the pastoral tribes, almost before anything deserving the name of a 
state was to be met with. At a much later period it prevailed in Par- 
thla,* and has been one of the characteristics of the Sclavonic nations 
in modem Europe. It naturally marks the infancy of society when the 
inferior occupations of life and all common trades were followed ex- 
clusively by slaves or by foreigners ;f and by the former probably 
somewhat earlier than by the latter* The chiefs of a tribe, whether 
they were one or many, fixed their dwelling on the tops of isolated 
hills, or where a high table land terminated abruptly in precipitous 
cliffs ; here they made their followers construct walls for their defence, 
and within this fortified precmct they lived with their families and their 
personal attendants, and here also they made a place of worship for the 
gods of their fathers. Below, at the foot of the hill, rose the dwellings 
of the rest of their dependents, the keepers of their flocks and herds, or 
the cultivators of their lands, who for their own security were glad to 
live under the protection of the castle of their chief. If several of these 
little tribes' united to form one people, they would sometimes occupy a 
spot where several eminences were to be found, near to each other, yet 
distinct ; and each of these would form a separate Ktbutj or village, 
appropriated to a separate tribe, while all together composed the city of 
the united people. Sparta;]; was an instance of a city thus formed out 
of a cluster of distinct villages ; and, according to some opinions Rome 
was another. But in general the original city consisted properly of one 


t Uo^* Mois h MX0V Td $Si¥imnv )y fmiriy. Ariilot!«, P«)liticf , iii. t. 

I See Thucyd. 1 10, and tha note. 



fortified enclosure, on commanding ground, which contained the habi- 
tations of the chiefs and their immediate dependents, with the temples 
of their hereditary gods ; while the dwellings of the rest of their de- 
|)endents were built without the walls,* either at the foot of the hill, or 
scattered over the surrounding country. And these men, not living in 
the town but around about it, not citizens but dependents, were the ori- 
ginal 7ie()totxoi of Grecian History. Their numbers in process of time 
increased, and their own condition improved. Their numbers increased 
by the number of strangers, who, in a rude and unsettled state of so- 
ciety, were constantly driven from their homes to seek a refuge else- 
where ; the slaves or followers of another chief, who hoped to find an 
easier service ; adventurers attracted by the military fame of the tribe 
to which they desired to join themselves ; and men with blood on their 
hands, Hying from the vengeance of the family of him whom they had 
slain. Persons of the last class, as being oflen of noble blood in their 
own tribe or country, were received as citizens in their new home ;t 
but fugitives of the other two descriptions swelled the number of the 
nf^oixoi, or commons. Sometimes also a whole people expelled from 
their own country, or led by some other cause to seek a new abode, 
solicited an asylum amongst the inhabitants of another city. They were 
admitted to dwell with them, oi'joixoi ^jtioiio, like the Israelites of 
Eg\*pt, and the Pelasgians in Attica ;^ and had a distinct quarter assigned 
for their residence. But neither were these considered as citizens, and 
either continued a distinct race, and were subjected to the dominion of 
the citizens till they were either driven or became enabled to emigrate 
once more : or, il* they blended with the old inhabitants of the land, it 
was with the commons, not with the citizens ; and thej swelled the 
mass of that already mixed population which was grown up around the 
city of the chiels, and which made it now a citadel in the midst of a 
city, rather than the principal part of the city itsell. Meantime, while 

• This on a largf r scale scents to have been the plan of swne of the great eastern 
capitals. AMiat was properly called the city of Ecbatana consisted of sercn concen- 
tre fortitied enclosnres, the external circle bein^ about the siie of Athens ; bat al' 
tl\:'«r werv onlr the rrs:i:ence of ihe ^mg, and app<inrn:Iy of the higher castes, the 
map and pnr.c.ipal warriors: the mass of the popu'jiiioa Itred without the walls> See 
Heivxio:. i. 9?. 9:?. So in Babylon, the great external walls enclosed a district rather 
than a city, but within these were two smaller fortified enclosures, the tower of Bdin, 
and the royal «;iuirter or precinct of the court, which as far as w« can judge from the 
exxstiog remains of it, extended along the Euphrates fw about two mUes. [See Xr. 
Rici&'s Memoir, in which the MujcUbe seems to answer to the p«ru«.A of Hcradotoih, 


♦ See the story of rhurnix. Hoccer, Iliad, ix. 479. 4c., and of Epeigew. Iliad* Xfi. 
5TtX Comparv alw the famous scorr of Atrs and Adrmstw in HdodgCos. L M, Jkc 

; Compa.-v Uc«-v«iot*^ u. 51, n. 137. Thncj^ iL K, i 


the numbers of the commons thus incrcjased, their condition improred 
also. In the middle ages the emancipation of the serfs of the nobility 
was largely effected by the influence of Christianity ; nor was the 
church slow in urging in this instance a full compliance with the spirit 
of the gospeL But the gospel addresses itself in vain in our days to 
the proprietors of slaves ; and this diflerence neither arises from any 
moral superiority in the noble over the planter, nor altogether from the 
diminished zeal of the Church. It springs out of the difierent relation 
in which the slaves stood to their masters. The dependents of a feudal 
noble were the instruments of his pride and power rather than of his 
wealth : their numbers swelled his state, their swords maintained his 
quarrels ; but if they were changed from serfs to tenants, their services 
in these respects would be nearly the same ; so that it was no extra- 
ordinary sacrifice of selfishness to emancipate them. Thus also the 
followers of the nobles of a much more remote period were employed 
in war or agriculture much more than in household ofiUces. Slaves of 
this latter description were extremely few ;♦ they were bred up with 
the children of the family, and little distinction was made in the treat- 
ment of the one and the other. Meantime the agricultural vassals 
were sufifered to make the most of their own industry, and por- 
tions of landf were sometimes granted them by their lords, in which 
they acquired in a few generations a sort of property : while those who 
lived nearer to the towns acquired wealth by following various branches 
of trade or handicraft employments. In this manner they grew comw 
paratively rich and powerful ; and when a change of circumstances 
took place, and the chiefs began to feel that wealth was an important 
means of power, it was too late then to reduce their vassals to the con- 
dition of our colonial slaves, and to make a profit of their labour, when 
they were on the point of asserting their complete equality with their 

But before this change was efiTected, all but the chiefs, that is, aU 
who were not of noble blood, whether they were bom dependents on 
the nobles, or whether they were strangers who had been induced to 
settle amongst them, were alike comprised under the denomination of 
" commons," drifiog^ and were not considered members of the state, or 
nolUa^, The widely dififerent feeling which existed towards them, and 
towards the citizens or members of the state, is best shown by the difl 
ferent language in which Homer makes Ulysses address them. (Iliad, 
book II.) They could neither command in war nor in peace : they 

* Herodot vi. 137, Till 137. Juvenal, ziv. 168. 


could not minister at the altars of the gods ; nor were their voices ad- 
mitted in the decision of state affairs. They were, in short, in the 
heroic times, what the slaves and resident foreigners were in the his- 
toric age, that is, inhabitants of the country, but not citizens. They 
could not possess land nor intermarry with the citizen nobility of the 
commonwealth : and if they wore free from personal slavery, yet both 
politically and in private life they were liable to constant oppression ; 
for the '^ limited prerogatives" of the kings of ancient Greece are to be 
understood only with respect to their nobles ; over the commons both 
the kings and nobles were absolute. Still, as we have seen, if they 
could acquire any property, either in war or by commerce, it remained 
fully their own ; they thus obtained consideration, and learned to feel 
their own power and rights ; and were already sufficiently important to 
be courted as auxiliaries in the civil contests of the aristocracy, before 
they were strong enough to assert their claims in their own name, and 
enter as principals into the quarrel in their own cause. 

The outline here given, as far as relates to the ancient world, can be 
made out only from a careful comparison of various scattered passages 
in ancient authors ; nor perhaps can every portion of it be supported 
by direct testimony, although in the main I have no doubt that all who 
have studied ancient history attentively will admit its correctness. But 
for the analogous period of society in modem times we have evidence 
full and direct; and a slight sketch of the Constitution of Augsburg* 
will at once illustrate and confirm what I have given as a picture of 
the origin of the commons generally under similar circumstances. On 
the conquest of Swabia by the Franks, a certain number of persons, 
free by birth, (Ingenui,) and enjoying in consequence of their birth the 
privileges of an aristocracy, such as the exclusive right of serving in 
war, of administering justice, and of discharging the offices of religion, 
settled with their dependents in the town of Augsburg. In process of 
time there grew up around them a large population, chiefly formed out 
of the class of freedmen, that is, of the vassals or dependents of the free 
citizens who had been emancipated by their lords ; and this population 
was settled not within the precincts of the city, but outside the walls in 
suburbs surrounded by a palisade, whence they were denominated 
" Pfalburger," or " citizens of the palisade," the Greek negLomoi, to 
distinguish them from the genuine citizens who lived within the walls. 
But the free or noble inhabitants of the inner town were alone called 
simply " citizens," (burger ;) a '* decree of the citizens of Augsburg" 

* The whole of this account of the constitution of Augsburg is taken from Paul von 
Stetten's " Geschichte der adelichen Geschlechter in Augsburg." ('* History of tbe 
Noble Families of Augsburg.**) Augsburg, 1763. 


was sjnonomoiis with a ** decree of the great council of the inhabitants 
of free blood," and by no means comprehended the Pfitlburger, although 
these last formed the most numerous f>art of the ix>pulation. The ** citi- 
zens" of Augsburg, although living in a town, and not on their lands 
in the country, were yet in all respects accounted the equals of the 
Milites Agrarii, or country nobility, throughout Germany ; they used 
all the distinctions of nobility, banners and armorial bearings, and they 
intermarried with the nobles, as belonging to the same class in society. 
They had their two Stadt-Pfieger, or burgomasters, their ordinary coun- 
cil of twelve citizens, annually chosen by the council of the preceding 
year ; and their great council, (the Comitia Curiata of the early Roman 
constitution,) composed of the whole body of citizens. But about the 
beginning of the 14th century the commons found themselves suffi- 
ciently advanced in wealth and power to lay claim to their share of the 
rights of citizenship. They seem first to have been admitted into the 
great council, as the plebeians at Rome voted in the comitia before 
they were admitted into the senate, or eligible to the consulship : then 
the ordinary council was increased from twelve to four and twenty, the 
additional members being apparently chosen from the commons ; but 
the twelve patrician counsellors still formed a separate tribunal, to 
which cases were brought in the last resort, although on other occa- 
sions they formed one body with the counsellors of the commons. Still 
faithfully representing the same course of events which had marked the 
downfall of the old aristocracies of Greece and Rome, Augsburg had 
her noble family of popular principles, whose members, whether from 
ambition or true patriotism, asserted the rights of the commons, and 
exposed themselves to the persecutions of their own body ; and Sibot 
Stolzhirsch and his kinsmen acted the part of Clisthenes and the 
Alcmseonidse at Athens, of the Valerii and Manlius Capitolinus at 
Rome. Finally, in the year 1368, the companies of trades, or, in other 
words, the commons of Augsburg, succeeded without a struggle in gain- 
ing for themselves not only an equality of rights with the nobles, but 
an absolute ascendancy; and in the first moment of their triumph they 
proposed to destroy the political existence of the nobility altogether, and 
to oblige every citizen under the old constitution to become a commoner 
and a member of some* one of the companies. They listened however 
to the entreaties of the nobles, and allowed them to remain a separate 

* This wai done from time to time at Florence as a reward of the liberal principles 
of particular nobles ; for the nobility being disqualified from holding public offices, 
could only be rendered eligible to them by being made commoners. On the other 
hand, unpopular commoners were sometimes ennobled, in order to disfranchise them* 
Hallam, Middle Ages, chap. III. part il, p. 435. 


order; thej gave them also their share in the govemment, ordering 
that fifteen nobles should be chosen into the common council of the 
companies, and that one of these should bo always burgomaster along 
with the burgomaster of the commons. 

This story of the gradual emancipation of the commons of Augsburg 
is particularly deserving of attention, because it exhibits a rare instance 
of society advancing in its natural course without the interference of 
any disturbing causes ; and the example therefore is well fitted to show 
what are to be considered as the general laws of a nation's progress, 
if left to itself, and what are merely accidental and forcible intemip- 
tions of them. For instance, the subsequent revolution in Augsburg in 
1548, by which the aristocracy regained almost all their former ascend- 
ancy, was not produced by any internal and natural causes, but by 
foreign violence ; the emperor Charles the Fiflh, in his hatred of all 
free and just government, forcibly dispossessing the commons of their 
power. But even where the disturbing cause is certain in its inter- 
ference, as in mechanics the resistance of the air always prevents a 
body from obeying the natural laws of motion, still the general princi- 
ples of the science are universally held to be essential to the attainment 
of a true knowledge of it. Much more does this hold good in political 
science, where disturbing causes need not of necessity come into action, 
and what is true in principle may sometimes, as at Augsburg up to the 
year 1548, be no less true in practice. 

The history of Augsburg down to the overthrow of its liberty by 
Charles the Fifth, shows the manner in which the aristocracy of blood 
is naturally overthrown by the ordinary progress of a people in wealth 
and civilization ; it shows too with bow little difinculty and danger this 
change may be effected, where no disturbing causes exist, and where 
the eftbrt of the political constitution is neither hurried forwards, nor 
violently checked, external circumstances combining also to favour it. 
Spring is ever a critical period, and the fairest promise of blossom on 
the healthiest tree may be cut oft* by one of the sudden frosts or storms 
so incident to that changeful season. In the political spring also there 
are peculiar dangers internal and external, which in too large a propor- 
tion of instances have never allowed the blossom to ripen. These may 
be stated principally as three ; 1st, The union of property, under pecu- 
liar local circumstances, with nobility ; 2nd, The increasing influence 
of wealth leading to absolute monarchy instead of a free govemment ; 
3rd, an unfavourable state of foreign relations. I proceed to speak of 
these in their order. 

1. The union of property, under peculiar local circumstances, with 
nobility. This is a check upon the growth of liberty which peculiarly 


belongs to what I have called aristocracies of conquest : for in these 
cases the first settlement of the conquering people renders the distri- 
bution of property fearfully unequal, and the hostile relation long main- 
tained between the conquerors and the conquered leads to fruitless in- 
surrections, and subsequent confiscations, or to laws directly restrain- 
ing the acquisition of property by the conquered people. But where 
the distinction between nobles and commons is not founded on con- 
quest, the emancipation of the latter is checked by the local circum- 
stances of the country, or the moral and physical constitution of the 
race of its inhabitants. Distance from the sea, the want of great 
rivers, the existence of large forests and deserts, the interposition of 
numerous chains of mountains or impracticable hills, any thing, in 
short, that impedes communication, and thus shuts out foreign com- 
merce, necessarily tends to prevent the creation of any wealth but that 
arising from land, and the land is already monopolized by the aristo- 
cracy. Now where the land, as in Judea, is divided in the beginning 
amidst the whole people, the absence of foreign commerce, although 
incompatible with any high advancement in knowledge and general 
cultivation of mind, is not incompatible with a large amount of na- 
tional virtue and happiness : but an agricultural country in the hands 
of an aristocracy is a state at once of physical, intellectual, and moral 
degradation, and which tends to exclude all opportunities of amend- 
ment. Again, the moral and physical constitution of difierent races of 
mankind produces results worth noticing. The lively and social temper 
of the Greeks and Italians led them to desire frequent intercourse with 
one another, and could scarcely exist without the excitement of the 
theatre and the forum. Thus the chiefs resided in the towns, even 
while their main property was derived from the country ; and they 
were far more accessible to the influence or power of the commons 
than if, like the territorial nobility of Germany, they had resided on 
their estates in castles, which were so many strongholds of their do- 
minion. On the other hand, the strong passion for field sports which 
distinguished the Teutonic nations, and their little aptitude for social 
and intellectual enjo3rments, made them in general abandon the towns 
to their vassals, and continue to keep themselves and their immediate 
dependents out of the reach of the humanizing influences of general 
society, as well as of the direct force of popular power. Under these 
circumstances, then, property is united with nobility in keeping down 
the progress of the nation ; either because the commons are prevented 
from acquiring commercial wealth, by which alone they can hope to 
balance the territorial wealth of the aristocracy ; or because the 
nobles find in the very situation of their property an advantageous 


military position, enabling them to escape the influence of the com- 
mons before an actual collision takes place, and to enter into the con- 
test when it does come with superior means of resistance. 

2. But the most fatal danger which threatens the political constitu- 
tion, arises out of the very crisis of its state of transition from the as- 
cendancy of blood to that of property, when monarchical despotism is 
the result instead of general liberty. Sometimes this despotism has 
been itself only transient, and after having been the instrument of good 
in plucking up by the roots the old aristocracy, has yielded in its turn 
to a free and liberal government ; but in other cases it has realized the 
&ble of the horse and the stag, and has established a worse and more 
enduring tyranny over the people than that which it supplanted. Of 
the first class were the despotisms noticed by Thucydides as springing 
up almost everywhere on the first overthrow of the old aristocratical 
monarchies : of the second, the history of modem Europe affords but 
too many examples. But in both, the evil arose from the imperfect 
distribution of wealth ; commerce was confined to a few hands, and 
produced a rate of profit, proportionably large ; and the increased at- 
tention paid to agriculture added to the wealth of a few only, because 
the land was engrossed by only a small portion of the community. In 
Greece a man who could purchase the services of a small body of 
mercenary soldiers seized the citadel, and made himself tyrant. In 
modern Europe a king who was rich enough to substitute a small 
standing army for the feudal array of an earlier period, became at once 
independent of the support of his nobles, and powerfiil enough to crush 
them if they offered any opposition to his plans. In the famous revo- 
lution of 1660 in Denmark, the commons surrendered their liberties to 
the crown in order to purchase thus dearly the subversion of the aris- 
tocracy. And wherever a king has existed in modem Europe, the 
overthrow of the aristocracy has generally been effected by his means. 
Happy the people who have not suffered their liberties to be merely 
transferred from one spoiler to another, but have asserted their right to 
share in the victory of the crown. But in modern Europe, the size of 
the kingdoms, and the much more strongly monarchical spirit of the 
people, allowed the kings to consolidate their work ; while in ancient 
Greece the tyrant of a single town was far more readUy overthrown. 
It has been an aggravation to the evil in modern times, that the king, 
after he had once established his power, seemed to make conmion cause 
with the aristocracy against the people, and lent his support to main- 
tain them in their many exemptions and prerogatives. At the same 
time, the means by which he has maintained his own despotism, a 
mercenary standing army, has rendered finance a most important sub- 


ject of attention, and baa marked that second stage in society, in which 
money rather than birth confers the ascendancy. 

3. But if we look a little further we shall trace this unfitvourable 
aspect of the great crisis in the progress of society to one cause abore 
all others, to an unfavorable state of foreign relations, or, in other 
words, to foreign wars. Well has Thucydides, with his accustomed 
wisdom, denounced war as the great aggravation of the fitctions of 
Greece ; it was this which hardened their hearts, and blinded their 
reason, till they were ready for the perpetration of any folly and any 
crime. And to the exemption from this curse, which Great Britain 
enjoyed during the latter half of the sixteenth and the beginning of the 
seventeenth century, the favourable termination of our political crisis is 
mainly to be attributed. In no country had it commenced with symp- 
toms more alarming : the aristocracy were exhausted by the wars of 
the Roses ; the clergy changed from an independent estate of the 
realm to the veriest slaves of the king's pleasure ; the commons were 
daily advancing, it is true, in wealth and intelligence, but their strength 
was not yet matured, and was wholly incompetent to resist a vigorous 
military despotism. But providently was it ordered that the prudence 
and parsimony of Elizabeth, and the un warlike temper of her succes- 
sor, saved us from engaging deeply in the great continental wars. 
Most thankful should we be that their foreign policy was not more 
vigorous, their commanders not more wisely selected, their military 
operations not more fortunate. Leicester and Buckingham by their 
incapacity were far more useful to their country under the circumstan- 
ces of that time than if they had possessed the genius of Marlborough 
or Wellington. Had the military spirit of the nation been more ably 
directed, had there been formed in the wars of Holland or the Palati- 
nate such a band of disciplined soldiers as those whose unrivalled ex- 
ploits'" in Flanders in 1658 were the admiration of their French al- 
lies, and the terror of Spain, the triumph of the crown in the civil war 
of 1642 must have been speedy and decisive, and before even the 
talents of Cromwell could have organized the parliament's armies, their 
total defeat, and the utter extinction of the national liberties, would 
have been inevitably consummated. 

What England thus happily escaped, delayed for nearly two centu- 
ries the deliverance of France. The long contest with Spain and 
Austria produced effects infinitely more disastrous than the defeats of 
Pavia and St. Quentin. For these ample atonement was made at Ro- 

* There is a most entertainmgr account of the ezploits of this inTincible army in 
one of the volumes of the Harleian Miscellany, written by major-geneml Moi|ran, 
who was its actual commander, although Lookbart was nominally the generaL 


croi and Fribourg ; but what could remedy the prevalence of a military 
spirit, created by so many years of warfare ; the distraction of the pub- 
lie mind from all schemes of internal improvement ; and the absolute 
power acquired and secured by the crown ? And within our own memo- 
ry, when nature, recovered from her long check, made a second and 
happier effort to attain to maturity, the curse of war again interposed 
to mar the work, and the aggressions of the imperial armies provoked 
a reaction, by the consequences of which the deliverance achieved by 
the Constituent Assembly was again for a time placed in jeopardy. 

Nor, while noticing the evils arising to the political constitution from 
an unfavourable state of its foreign relations, must we forget that abuse 
of the principle of hereditary succession which has placed the crowns 
of remote and uncongenial nations on the head of the same individual. 
This accumulation of dominion has been oflen regarded with jealousy 
by foreign nations, as threatening their own independence ; but its 
dangers are still greater to the people* thus unnaturally subjected to 
the same master. In this ill-omened union, each member of it is to 
the other like the dead corpse fastened by the tyrant of old to the liv- 
ing man ; the strength and resources of each are employed in crush- 
ing the other's independence. So Charles the Fifth trampled upon the 
liberties of the Netherlands with the help of his Spanish soldiers, and 
upon Italy with the military force both of Spain and Germany. 

Such arc the dangers besetting that critical period of a nation's ex- 
istence, when it is emerging from the dominion of its old aristocracy. 
If it escapes these, either originally or finally, it enters upon its state 
of manhood, and is exposed to a somewhat different succession of strug- 
gles. The contest then is between property and numbers, and where- 
evcr it has come to a crisis, I know not that it has in any instance ter- 
minated favourably. Such was the state of Greece in the time of 
Thucydides ; of Rome during the last century of the commonwealth ; 

* What is here said applies, be it remembered, to the period when the commoni 
arc in the natural course of things ripe for a political emancipation, and are itrong 
enough to excite the jealousy of the aristocracy. But at an earlier period, while they 
arc still entirely subservient to the nobility, the union of several crowns in the person 
of one sovereign, has been advantageous to the general liberty, because his great 
foreign power and resources have led the nobles to conciliate the regard of the com- 
mons for their own defence against the king ; and a happy union of interest! and 
feelings has been thus produced, whose effects in after-times are most beneficiaL 
Such was the case in England, owing to the extensive continental dominion of the 
first Plantagcnct monarchs ; the Anglo-Norman barons became English in feeling, 
and favoured the liberties of the commons, because they were afraid of being ejeoted 
from their possessions by the Poitevins and other continental mibjects of Henry the 
Third, as their ancestors bad dispoesesied the Anglo-SazonB. 

SOCIAL ntoGvmn of statm. 828 

and such has been the state of England since the revolution of 
1668. Comparisons drawn from the preceding period are inappli- 
cable to this ; while, on (he ether hand, as the phenomena of the se- 
cond period arise out of causes connected with the earlier state of 
things, they cannot be clearly understood unless that former state be 
fully known to us. Thus to argue that the Romans were less bloody 
than the Creoles from a comparison between the factions of the Pelopon- 
nesian war and the struggles of the Roman commons against the Pa- 
tricians, is to compare the two nations under very different circum- 
stances ; it is instituting a parallel between the intensity of our pas- 
sions in manhood and in childhood. The bloody factions of Corcyra 
and Megara are analogous to the civil wars of Marius and Sylla, of 
Csesar and Pompey, of Brutus and Cassius against the triumvirs : the 
harmless contests between the commons and patricians can only be 
compared to those which prevailed in Greece before the Persian inva- 
sion, when the party of the coast at Athens was disputing the exclusive 
ascendancy so long enjoyed by the eupatridae or party of the plain. 
And the true conclusion is, that the second contest, between property 
and numbers, is far more inevitably accompanied by atrocious crimes 
than that earlier quarrel in which property and numbers were united 
against property and birth. 

The causes of this difference are worth noticing. The distinction 
between the nobility and the commons was originally a real one ; that 
is, it was grounded upon a real superiority either physical or moral* 
But every successive generation tended to make it more and more ima- 
ginary ; till, at the moment of the final struggle between the two or- 
ders, it had no real existence at all. The commons were then become 
as well qualified as the nobles, both physically and morally, to conduct 
the affairs of peace and war ; and thus the exclusive ascendancy of the 
nobility being become unnatural and absurd, now that it existed along 
with a real equality of the two parties in merit and in wealth, was re- 
signed for very shame, and was in fact but the sacrifice of a shadow. 
Whereas in the contest between property and numbers, the course of 
things is exactly the opposite. The final struggle here only takes place 
when the real differences between the contending parties have reached 
the widest point of separation ; when the intermediate gradations of 
society are absorbed in one or other of the two extremes, and the state 
is divided only between the two irreconcilable opposites of luxury and 
beggary. This is no contest between men really equal, to do away 
with a fictitious distinction : it is a struggle between utter contraries ; 
between parties who have absolutely no point in common, no imow- 
ledge of each other's feelings, no sympathy in each other's pursuits ; 


and who are contending for a prize which one cannot gain without a 
proportional loss to the other. And in confirmation of this view of the 
subject, wherever difference of blood and race is so strong as even af- 
ter the lapse of ages to constitute a real distinction, as in the case of 
white men and negroes, there the perfect amalgamation of the political 
body becomes exceedingly difficult, if not utterly hopeless ; and the 
daily increasing negro population of the United States, a population ex- 
cluded by a feeling of natural diversity from an enjoyment of the rights 
of citizenship, is perhaps one of the most alarming points in the future 
prospects of that great and growing people.* 

On the other hand, the position of parties in the latter contest must 
be traced to the causes connected with that one which preceded it. 
The enormous inequality of property at Rome, against which the 
Agrarian laws were particularly directed, arose out of the exclusive 
claim to the rights of citizenship formerly asserted by the patricians. 
They who were not citizens could have no title to a share of the na- 
tional lands ; and in early times none were citizens except the patri- 
cians. The principle that the land of the state should be equallyf divid- 
ed amongst all the citizens in the original settlement of the country, 
and that an admission of new citizens implied that they should share 

* ** The hostility existing between the free blacks and the wfaltet in the United 
States is even more inveterate than that of slaves towards their masters ; and in 
some of the slates, Virginia especially, it has been thought necessary to enact laws, by 
which all manumitted slaves arc compelled to quit the commonwealth.*' WartPa 
Mexico, vol. i. p. 38. In Mexico, on the contrary, where there is scarcely any thing 
of a pure negro population, so much more strongly distinguished than the native 
American race from the physical character of Europeans, the different castes have 
blended freely together, and the common feeling of hatred to the old Spaniards of 
Europe has drawn together all the natives of Mexico, whether of Spanish or of Indian 
extraction ; and has even led the former, descended as they are from the first con. 
querors of Mexico, to identify themselves with the aborigines, and to speak of the 
atrocities of their own ancestors as committed by Spain against their countrymen. 
lb. p. 34. 

t Til is appears from what we know of the first settlement of particular nations 
in the territory which they afterwards occupied ; as, for instance, of the Israelites 
in Canaan, and the Dorians in Peloponnesus. It appears also from the practice ob- 
served in the planting of colonies, both among the Greeks and Romans, where equal 
shares of land were distributed to the several colonists. Hence when a number of 
new citizens were admitted, there was generally a demand for a re.division of the 
land, on the principle that it was a common stock, which ought to be equally shared 
among all the citizens. The philosophers also, in their proposed models of a com- 
mon wealth, proceed on the same notion ; certain portions of the land are to be set 
apart for religious purposes, and the rest to be divided in lots amongst the citizens. 
See Plutarch, Lycurgus 8. Thucydid. V. 4 Dionysius Halicam. II. 6, 7. Heiodot. 
IV. 159. Aristot. PoUUc. VI. 4, VII. 10. 


for the ibture in all public land not yet divided, was generally recognizo 
ed by the nations of antiquity. But the Roman patricians, whilst they 
allowed the first part of this principle, objected to the second ; and re- 
fused to admit the commons to any division of the unappropriated public 
land. So again in modem times, how much of the actual situation of 
our aristocracy of property is derived from our old aristocracy of con- 
quest: the enormous landed estates of many of our nobility, — the 
great political influence conferred by land above all other kinds of 
property, — the law of primogeniture and the law of entails. Above 
all, the existence of an order of nobility communicated by descent, with 
separate powers, and peculiar privileges, gives to the aristocracy 
of modem Europe much more of the character of the older aristocracy 
of blood than was retained afler the corresponding revolution in Greece 
and Rome. In fact, if hereditary monarchy was to be retained, public 
liberty could scarcely have been achieved or preserved without a co- 
existent hereditary aristocracy. 

The view that has been here taken of the progress of society ofiers 
an explanation of many points, which without it have been sometimes 
misunderstood. It shows how the popular party of an earlier period 
becomes the antipopular party of a later ; because the tendency of 
society is to become more and more liberal, and as the ascendancy of 
wealth is a more popular principle than the ascendancy of nobility, so 
it is less popular than the ascendancy of numbers. Thus the comitia 
centuriata of Servius Tullius, which in the times of Marius and Caesar 
would have been an institution entirely aristocratical, were in their 
first creation a most liberal and popular measure, by admitting wealth 
to that supremacy which had before been monopolized by noble birth. 
Thus the house of commons, which was the popular part of our consti- 
tution so long as the struggle was between the nation and the crown, 
has been regarded since the accession of George the Third as a body 
predominantly aristocratical, because the parties in the state have 
resolved themselves into the advocates of property on one side, and of 
general intelligence and numbers on the other. 

We may leam also a more sensible division of history than that 
which is commonly adopted of ancient and modern. We shall see that 
there is in fact an ancient and a modem period in the history of every 
people ; the ancient differing, and the modem in many essential points 
agreeing with that in which we now live. Thus the largest portion of 
that history which we commonly call ancient is practically modem, aa 
it describes society in a stage analogous to that in which it now is ; 
while, on the other hand, much of what is called modem history is prac- 
tically ancient, as it relates to a state of things which has passed »way. 


Thucjdidcs and Xenophon, the orators of Athens, and the philosophersi 
speak a wisdom more applicable to us politically than the wisdom even 
of our own countr3rmen who lived in the middle ages ; and their posi- 
tion, both intellectual and political, more nearly resembled our own. 
We may learn also by the experience of other societies in an analogous 
state to ours, that having happily overlived the critical season of the 
transition from youth to manhood, what we should now most dread are 
accidents, or constitutional disease produced by external violence : that 
is, that the great enemy of society in its present stage is war : if this 
calamity be avoided, the progress of improvement is sure ; but attempts 
to advance the cause of freedom by the sword are incalculably perilous. 
War is a state of such fatal intoxication, that it makes men careless of 
improving, and sometimes even of repairing their internal institutions ; 
and thus the course of national happiness may be cut short, not only 
by foreign conquest, but by a state of war poisoning the blood, destroy- 
ing the healthy tone of the system, and setting up a feverish excite- 
ment, till the disorder terminates in despotism. 

Extending our view still more widely, and observing that in some 
parts of the world society seems never to have reached its natural man- 
hood, but has either gone on in protracted infancy, or has received a 
shock at the moment of its transition, which has condemned it to a long 
living death ; that either the old aristocracies have still existed, or have 
only been exchanged for despotism in its worst, and, humanly speaking, 
most hopeless form ; we shall draw near with reverence to those higher 
causes, which proceeding directly from the inscrutable will of our 
Maker, seem designed to humble the presumption of &ncying ourselves 
the arbiters of our own destiny. It is vain to deny that differences of 
national character apparently constitutional, and belonging to distinct 
families of the human race, have immensely influenced the greatness 
and happiness of each : it is equally clear, that the physical geography 
of the several parts of the earth has advanced or prevented the moral 
and intellectual progress of their respective inhabitants. The bound- 
less and unmanageable mass of earth presented by the continents of 
Asia and Africa has caused those parts of the world, which started the 
earliest in the race of civilization, to remain almost at the point from 
whence they set out ; while Europe and America, penetrated by so 
many seas, and communicating with them by so many rivers, have been 
subdued to the uses of civilization, and have ministered with an ever- 
growing power to their children's greatness. Well indeed might the 
policy of the old priest nobles of Egypt and India endeavour to divert 
their people from becoming familiar with the sea, and represent the 
occupation of a seaman as incompatible with the purity of the higheat 


castes. The sea deserved to be hated by the old aristocracies, iiias« 
much as it has been the mightiest instrument in the civilization of man- 
kind. In the depth of winter, when the sky is covered with clouds, 
and the land presents one cold, blank, and lifeless surface of snow, how 
refreshing is it to the spirits to walk upon the shore, and to enjoy the 
eternal freshness and liveliness of ocean. Even so in the deepest win- 
ter of the human race, when the earth was but one chilling expanse of 
inactivity, life was stirring in the waters. There began that spirit 
whose genial influence has now reached to the land, has broken the 
chains of winter, and covered the face of the earth with beauty. 

But these distinctions between race and race, like those between 
individuals, involve a duty }i<rhich men have been unhappily very unwill- 
ing to practise. They who are most fiivoured by nature owe their best 
assistance to those whose lot is most unpromising ; they who have ad- 
vanced the furthest in civilization, are bound to enlighten others whose 
progress has been less rapid. But here that feeling of pride and selfish- 
ness interposes, which, under the name of patriotism, has so long tried 
to pass itself off for a virtue. As men in proportion to their moral ad- 
vancement learn to enlarge the circle of their regards f as an exclusive 
affection for our relations, our clan, or our country, is a sure mark of 
an unimproved mind, so is that narrow and unchristian feeling to be 
condemned, which regards with jealousy the progress of foreign na- 
tions, and cares for no portion of the human race but that to which itself 
belongs. The detestable encouragement so long given to national 
enmities, the low gratification felt by every people in extolling them- 
selves above their neighbours, should not be overlooked amongst the 
causes which have mainly obstructed the improvement of mankind. 
Exclusive patriotism should be cast ofi) together with the exclusive 
ascendancy of birth, as belonging to the follies and selfishness of our 
uncultivated nature. Yet, strange to say, the former at least is some- 
times upheld by men who not only call diemselves Christians, but are 
apt to use the charge of irreligion as the readiest weapon against those 
who differ firom them. So little have they learned of the spirit of that 
revelation, which taught emphatically the abolition of an exclusively na- 
tional religion and a local worship, that so men, being all bom of the 
same blood, might make their sympathies coextensive with their bond 
of universal brotherhood. 





Two or three points offer a tempting field for investigation. They 
are not exclusively connected with Thucydides, but as bearing gene- 
rally upon Greek philology and history, I have thought that the mention 
of them would not be impertinent. 

I. Even after all the labours of the Prussian scholars, much remains 
to be done towards obtaining a complete knowledge of the number, and 
still more the value of the Greek MSS. now existing in Europe. It 
is not easy to know how many MSS. of any given writer are extant, 
where they are to be found, and, above all, whether from their age and 
character they are worth the trouble of an exact collation. A labour 
of this kind cannot be accomplished by individuals ; but the present 
spirit of liberal cooperation which seems to influence literary as 
well as scientific men throughout Europe, renders its accomplishment 
by the combined exertions o( the scholars of different countries by no 
means impracticable. It would be exceedingly convenient to possess 
an alphabetical list of all the extant Greek and Latin writers, with a 
catalogue raisonn6e of the MSS. of each : and if such a work were 
attempted, there is little doubt, I imagine, that in point of number a 
very large addition would be made to the stock of MSS. already known. 
What the result might be in point of value is another question ; still 
it is desirable to know what we have to trust to ; and when we have 
obtained a right estimate of our existing resources in manuscripts, we 
shall then be better able to judge what modem criticism will have to 
do from its own means towards bringing the text of the ancient writers 
to the greatest possible state of perfection. 

II. We seem now to have reached that point in our knowledge of 
the Greek language, at which other languages of the same fiunily 
must be more largely studied before we can make a fresh step in ad- 
vance. The practice of Greek, if I may allowed the expression, seems 
tolerably well understood ; the usage of the best writers, not only in 
points of construction, but even of orthography, has been carefully 
examined. We are now anxious to explain some few words or ex- 


pressions of less frequent occurrence, or to understand the principle of 
others whose meaning we have sufficiently learned from experience. 
I had intended, for instance, to inquire into the diflerance between the 
two conjunctions bI and V ; ^^^ there is much in the use of the parti- 
cle (Si', which has not yet been explained satisfactorily. I went far 
enough to ascertain the different uses of el and ^^^ in Thucydides, as 
a matter of fact ; but my ignorance of the etymology of the two 
words made me unable to ascend higher, and to explain the principle 
of this difference. It is easy enough to guess at etymologies, but this 
has been done more than enough in times past : and an etymology 
built on guesses is as worthless as one founded on real knowledge is 
instructive. It is possible that a more enlarged study of the different 
languages and dialects of the great Indo-Germanic family, both in 
their ancient and actual forms, may enable us to acquire such a know- 
ledge ; and we shall thus obtain perhaps a more clear understanding 
of some of those particles which even now are involved in much un- 
certainty. So far, I think, we may hope to advance not unreasonably ; 
but further progress seems scarcely possible. The origin of language 
in itself partakes of the same obscurity which surounds the origin of 
society : there is a point with both beyond which we cannot penetrate. 
Attempts to explain the phenomena of language a priori seem to me 
unwise. We cannot conceive the inventing of a language, because 
we cannot conceive the human mind acting without language. From 
a certain point we can readily trace the nature of the process : we can 
understand how simple terms expressive of outward objects were 
transferred to express by metaphor }he operations of the mind ; but 
how these simple terms were themselves arrived at, it seems impossi- 
ble to discover, or even reasonably to imagine. Wherever the re- 
sult is obtained by combination of existing elements, the method is in- 
telligible ; but invention, strictly speaking, appears to belong to a higher 
power than ours. As it has been well observed, that, supposing the 
first men to have been savages, we cannot understand how, without 
some divine interference, the human race could ever have arrived at 
civilization, so, if we suppose men to have been in such a state as to 
have had to invent or contrive a language, we cannot conceive how 
mankind, any more than other animals, should ever have been able to 
speak at all. 

III. Passing from the language in Thucydides to the matter contained 
in his History, the introduction in the first book naturally leads us to 
consider the question, how far the pretended early history of Greece is 
really historical or mythical. And here I confess that further consi- 
deration has induced me to accede to many of those notions of Niebuhr 



and Mailer which I formerly regarded as unreasonably scepticaL I 
had not deferred sufficiently to the tact which is gained in these mat- 
ters by great natural ability aided by long experience. Niebuhr't 
comparison is most true, that " if any one, on going into Benyenuto's 
prison when his eyes had for months been accustomed to see the ob- 
jects around him, had asserted that Benvenuto, like himself, could not 
distinguish any thing in darkness, surely he would have been some- 
what presumptuous." Yet still the character of the early Grecian 
history does not seem to have been completely analysed. Niebuhr 
has shewn that in the Roman history passages wholly legendaiy 
occur in the midst of a narration substantially historical ; thus the 
account of the taking of Veil is legendary, while the earlier events of 
the siege are as clearly historical. This is important, because it pre- 
pares us for the same intermixture in the early history of Greece also ; 
and shews us that portions of real history may exist before the be- 
ginning of the merely historical period : towards the frontiers of fable 
and history patches or fragments of each are oflen to be found com- 
pletely insulated within the territories of the other. And to distin- 
guish one from the other, we must be guided by internal evidence ; the 
ancient writers may have offered both indiscriminately as history, and 
may have erred in doing so ; but is it not to imitate their error, if we 
represent both indiscriminately to be mythical, because we canniM 
rely on their discernment, and because they have in some instances 
related as history what has no pretensions to the name ? 

But with respect to Thucydides himself, it is a question how far he 
is to be taxed with such want of discernment, and whether he has 
himself regarded any thing as historical in the traditions of ancient 
Greece, which was in fact no better than mythical. This question is 
one which his editor seems naturally called upon to examine : and ft 
may incidentally perhaps throw some light on the question of mythical 
narratives in genera], on which as a whole I do not feel myself com- 
petent to enter fully. 

There is no doubt that the ablest men may entertain erroneous 
opinions on points which nothing has led them particularly to examine. 
If therefore Thucydides had never been led to question the real exist- 
ence of the chiefs or patriarchs who were said to have given their 
name to their respective people, his mention of Helien and Minos as 
historical persons would afford no proof that they were so. And it is 
well observed by a most able writer, that the power of distinguishing 
between history and mythical stories ** depends upon a survey of It 
vast field, of which but a small part was open to the view" of the eariy 


Graek historians. We suspect the real existence of Hellen and his 
•ons, because we observe a practice widely spread amongst differ- 
ent nations, of deriving the name of a people from a supposed 
king or leader of it ; and not only do we find the lives and actions of 
these pretended heroes to be for the most part of an unhistorical cha- 
racter, but our more extended knowledge of languages enables us in 
many instances to discover the real origin of a national name, and 
thus to prove the falsehood of its reputed derivation. And thus a 
general suspicion being thrown upon such stories, any single one of 
the number, although containing nothing improbable in itself, must yet 
be regarded as unhistorical, unless there be some peculiar circum- 
stances connected with it, giving it some distinct and particular ground 
of credibility. 

So far then I am willing to allow that Deucalion and Hellen Pelops, 
and Eumolpus, and any other heroes whom Thucydides may have named 
in his History, cannot be safely maintained to be real persons from his 
having mentioned them as such, without expressing any doubt as to 
their reality. Nor can it be thought to prove the existence of an in- 
dividual Homer, the author of the Iliad, Odyssey, and Homerick Hymns, 
that both Thucydides and Herodotus appear to have been of this opin- 
ion, and to have entertained no doubt of its truth. Literary criticism 
was in their days so much in its infancy, and that experience of the 
erroneousness of popular traditions which in our times has awakened 
criticism was then so wanting, that the ablest men may be forgiven &r 
having embraced the common notions on such matters just as they found 
them, without making any inquiry into their truth. But with regard to 
the early history of Greece, Thucydides was well aware of its uncer- 
tainty, and of the mythic character of some of those accounts which 
had passed for history. It is with a full consciousness of these facts 
that he professes to give us notwithstanding a credible outline of the 
principal revolutions which Greece had undergone, and carries his 
notices back to a period earlier than the Dorian conquest of Pelopon- 
nesus, or even than the war of Troy. His account of the Pelopid 
kings is professedly drawn from the statements of those *^ who had 
received from their fathers the clearest information as to the affairs of 
the Peloponnesians." Herodotus when speaking of the Dorian inva- 
sion of Peloponnesus, expressly says that the account given of it by the 
lAcedsmonians themselves, difieied from all the stories of the j>oets. 
Is it impossible that there should have existed, along with the poetical 
Tersion of the early Greek history, another version of a simpler and 
tnior character ; and that long before written narratives were known, 
a &ithful tradition may have been handed down in some particular fami- 


lies, which the memory could have retained as readily, when once 
applied to the task, as it is known to have retained the verses of the 
rhapsodists ? And if this be so, the fabulous actions ascribed to any 
hero in the poetical version of its exploits are no more a reason for 
our rejecting the historical traditions respecting him, and for supposing 
him to be altogether an imaginary personage, than the romances 
about Charlemagne should make us disbelieve the biography of Egin- 

Undoubtedly it may be said that these apparently historical traditions 
ave no real foundation ; and are no more than the clumsy attempts of 
Palajphatus to make fable pass for truth by merely divesting it of its 
impossibilities. And in this manner, according to Niebuhr, the annalist 
Piso pruned and mangled the poetical legends of Rome, and thought by 
so doing to convert them into history. It may be so certainly, but it 
does not follow that it must be so ; and with respect to Greece, the 
judgment of Thucydldes is no inconsiderable argument to prove that it 
was not so. And if any writer as able and as inquiring as Thucydides, 
and as fully aware of the existence and real character of the poetical 
legends, bad arisen at Rome in the age of the Scipios, or even of 
Cicero ; and afler stating in express terms the general uncertainty of 
the early Roman history, had given a brief outline of its principal 
events, collected from sources which he conceived to be trustworthy, 
such a sketch would in all probability have rendered the immortal work 
of Niebuhr in great measure superfluous. 

It is indeed natural that revolutions which effect a change in the 
inhabitants of a country should tend to interrupt the traditions of the 
Conquered people, or to corrupt them: and thus the Dorian conquest 
was likely to obscure the recollections of the Achaian princes of Sparta 
and Mycenae. Yet it should be remembered that the Achaians were 
neither extirpated nor enslaved ; that they may have retained their own 
traditions, as the Welsh and Irish have done under circumstances 
somewhat similar ; and that in one part even of Peloponnesus itself the 
descendants of the Pelopid princes had established themselves as con- 
querors, amid the general disasters of their race ; so that in Achaia the 
old Achaian traditions may have been preserved as easily as the Dorian 
traditions in Laconia and Argolis. With respect to the Dorians them- 
selves, if their whole early history since their establishment in Pelo* 
poinesus had in the time of Thucydides become utterly lost, if the rerj 
race of their kings had been falsified, so that they pretended to be 
Achaians and Heraclidae, whilst in reality they were Dorians like the 
rest of their people, such a phenomenon would call for some inquiry 
into its causes, as it has no antecedent probability to induce us to bo« 


lieve it* It is not probable that a people far removed from the condi- 
tion of savages, and established within historical memory in the country 
which they were actually occupying ; a people who since that period 
had undergone no great revolutions, whose social and political relationSf 
whose religion, and whose customs had suffered no change, should 
nevertheless have wholly lost the memory of their ancestors' fortunesi 
and should have had none but a poetical history, though their traditions 
were notoriously at variance with the stories of every known poet. 
But most incredible of all is it that they could have been mistaken as 
to the race of their kings, to whiph their existing institutions bore & 
living witness. A man's race in ancient times was marked by the 
peculiar religious worship of his family ; thus Herodotus, in order to 
throw light on the extraction of Isagoras, observes, that the members 
of his gens sacrificed to the Carian Jupiter : and owing to this circum- 
stance, the member of any distinguished person's origin was preserved 
in as efiectual a manner as it could bo by a series of contemporary docu- 
ments. Now the constant voice of tradition as to the Acbaian extrac- 
tion of the Spartan kings must have been confirmed by their peculiar 
religious ceremonies, such as they existed in the historical age of 
Greece; and there is no likelihood that these should have undergone 
any change since the period of the Dorian conquest. But if tbey were 
then Achaian, and not Dorian, the period of the alleged expulsion of 
the Heraclidas from Pelopcnnesus was at that time within memozyt 
and a thing so tenaciously remembered as the peculiar ancestry or 
race of a people would not be forgotten in the course of a hundred 
years. Besides every tradition of the Spartans attested that the kings 
were of a different race from their people ; the royalty of the one, and 
the independent allodial property of the other, were derived from a sup- 
posed original contract, by which the two parties united for their com- 
mon benefit ; the Heraclidse recovering the thrones which belonged to 
their race, whilst the Dorians, to whose aid their restoration was 
owing, took care to assert their own independent condition, very dis- 
tinct from that of a mere driuo; in those early times under its own natu« 
ral hero chiefs. It seems to me the wildest of fancies to suppose that 
all these traditions, which were not poetical, as well as the known reli- 
gious rites of the kings, were the mere fruits of state policy, which art- 
fully represented the Dorian chiefs as being of Achaian extraction, in 
order to give a sort of colour of right to their occupation of the Pelo- 
ponnesus. As if barbarian conquerors needed such a pretext, or were 
in the habit of inventing it ; as if the Norman chiefs would have fi>r- 
swom their own real ancestry, to represent themselves as descended 
from the race of the conquered Saxons. And where is the improba- 


bility of the common story, which represents the Heraclidee as exfled 
from Peloponnesus, and then becoming the chiefs of the people who 
gave them an asylum ? The very same thing happened with the Nor- 
man nobles who took refuge in Scotland : they became chiefs of Keltio 
clans, to which they gave their name without altering the national 
character of their clansmen ; and in little more than two centuries after 
their flight into Scotland, two of these Norman families, those of Bruce 
and Balliol, were seated on the Scottish throne. Without pretending 
then to assert the historical character of the stories told of the indi- 
vidual founders of the Spartan royalty, yet that the Spartan kings were 
of Achaian and not of Dorian extraction seems to me to admit of no 
reasonable doubt ; being precisely one of those points on which tradi- 
tion may best bo trusted ; being proved by what in ancient times wae 
a positive evidence, supplying the place of history, namely, the peculiar 
character of the religious rites of different races ; and being in itself 
quite consistent with probability, yet had it not been true, most unlikelj 
to have been invented. 

IV.* There is another point not peculiarly connected with Thucy- 
dides, except so far as he may be considered as the representative of 
all Grecian history, which appears to mc deserving of notice ; that state 
of imperfect citizenship so common in Greece under the various names 
of ^MeTotxot, neqioixoiy advoixot, &c. This is a matter of importance, as 
bearing upon some of the great and eternal principles of political sci- 
ence, and thus applying more or less to the history of every age and 

It seems to be assumed in modem times, that the being bom of free 
parents within the territory of any particular state, and the paying 
towards the support of its government, conveys a natural claim to the 
rights of citizenship. In the ancient world, on the contrary, citizen- 
ship, unless specially conferred as a favour by some definite law or 
charter, was derivable only from race. The descendants of a foreigner 
remained foreigners to the end of time ; the circumstance of their being 
bom and bred in the country was held to make no change in their con- 

* What follows, on the subject of citizenship, has been controverted since the sp- 
pearance of the first edition of this work, bj those whose argruments and aathoiity 
are alike entitled to the greatest respect I hope to have an opportunity ere long of 
returning to the subject, and attempting to meet the objections brought againot the 
theory here maintained. In the meanwhile, I did not think it desirable to carry on 
such an argument at length in the preface to an edition of Thucydides ; so that I 
hayo contented myself with reprinting the preface in ita origrinal form, reserving a 
fuller exposition and defence of the positions maintained in it for another oocaaioii.^ 
Note to the second Edition of Thucyd., 1841. The allusion is to the Appendix to the 
Inaugural Lecture on Modem History. 


didon ; commmiilj of plaee oouM no more convert alionf into citimiii 
than it could change domestic animab into men. Nor did the paying 
of taxes confer citizenship ; taxation was the price paid by a stranger 
for the liberty of residing in a country not his own, and for the protec- 
tion afforded by its laws to his person and property ; but it was Uiought 
to have no necessary connexion with the franchise of a citizen, &r less 
with the right of legislating for the commonwealth. 

Citizenship was derived from race ; but distinctions of race were not 
of that odious and fantastic character which they have borne in modem 
times ; they implied real differences oflen of the most important kind, 
religious and moral. Particular races worshipped particular gods, and 
in a particular manner. But different gods had different attributes, and 
the moral image thus presented to the continual contemplation and 
veneration of the people could not but produce some efiect on the na- 
tional character. According to the attributes of the god was the nature 
of the hymns in which he was celebrated ; even the music varied ; and 
this alone to a people of such lively sensibilities as the Greeks, was 
held to be a powerful moral engine ; whilst the accompanying cere* 
monies of the worship enforced with still greater efiect the impression 
produced by the hymns and music. Again, particular races had par. 
ticular customs which affected the relations of domestic life and of pub- 
lic. Amongst some polygamy was allowed, amongst others forbidden ; 
some held infanticide to be an atrocious crime, others in certain cases 
ordained it by law. Practices and professions regarded as infamous by 
some, were freely tolerated or honoured amongst others : the laws of 
property and of inheritance were completely various. It is not then to 
be wondered at that Thucydides, when speaking of a city founded 
jointly by lonians and Dorians, should have thought it right to add 
*^ that the prevailing institutions of the place were the Ionian ;" for 
according as they were derived from one or the other of the two races, 
the whole character of the people would be different. And therefore 
the mixture of persons of different race in the same commonwealth, 
unless one race had a complete ascendancy, tended to confuse all the 
relations of lifo, and all men's notions of right and wrong ; or by com- 
pelling men to tolerate in so near a relation as that of follow citizens 
differences upon the main points of human lifo, led to a general care- 
lessness and scepticism, and encouraged the notion that right and 
wrong have no real existence, but are the mere creatures of human 

But the interests of ambition and avarice are ever impatient of moial 
barriers. When a conquering prince or people had formed a vmit 
dominion out of a number of different nations, the several customs and 


religions of each were either to be extirpated, or melted into one mafls, 
In which each learned to tolerate those ofits neighbours, and to despise 
its own. And the same blending of races, and consequent confusion 
and degeneracy of manners, was favoured by commercial policy ; which* 
regarding men solely in the relation of buyers aad sellers, considered 
other points as comparatively unimportant, and in order to win cus- 
tomers would readily sacrifice or endanger the purity of moral and reli- 
gious institutions. So that in the ancient world civilisation which 
grew chiefly out of conquest or commerce, went almost hand in hand 
with demoralization. 

Now to those who think that political society was ordained for higher 
purposes than those of mere police or of traffic, the principle of the 
ancient commonwealths in making agreement in religion and morals 
the test of citizenship cannot but appear wise and good. And yet the 
mixture of races is essential to the improvement of mankind, and an 
exclusive attachment to national customs is incompatible with true 
liberality. How then was the problem to be solved ; how could civi- 
lization be attained without moral degeneracy, how could a narrow 
minded bigotry be escaped without falling into the worst evil of Epicu- 
rean indifference? Christianity has answered these questions most 
satisfactorily, by making religious and moral agreement independent 
of race or national customs ; by furnishing us with a sure criterion to 
distinguish between what is essential and eternal, and what is indiffer- 
ent, and temporal or local ; allow^ing, nay commanding, us to be with 
regard to every thing of this latter kind in the highest degree tolerant, 
liberal, and comprehensive ; while it gives to the former that only 
sanction to which implicit reverence may safely and usefully be paid, 
not the fond sanction of custom, or national prejudice, or human au- 
thority of any kind whatever, but the sanction of the truth of God. 

That bond and test of citizenship then which the ancient legislatures 
were compelled to seek in sameness of race, because thus only could 
they avoid the worst of evils, a confusion and consequent indifference 
in men's notions of right and wrong, is now furnished to us in the pro- 
fession of Christianity. He who is a Christian, let his race be what 
it will, let his national customs be ever so different from ours, is fitted 
to become our fellow citizen : for his being a Christian implies that he 
retains such of his national customs only as are morally indifferent ; 
and for all such we ought to feel the most perfect toleration. He who 
is not a Christian, though his family may have lived for generations on 
the same soil with us, though they may have bought and sold with us* 
though they have have been protected by our laws, and paid taxes in 


retom for that protection, * is jet essentiallj not a citizen but a fo« 
joumer; and to admit such a person to the rights of citizenship tends 
in principle to the confusion of right and wrong, and lowers the ob- 
jects of political society to such as are merely physical and external. 
In conclusion I must beg to repeat what I have said before, that the 
period to which the work of Thucydides refers belongs properly to 
modern f and not to ancient history ; and it is this circumstance, over 
and above the great ability of the historian himself, which makes it so 
peculiarly deserving of our study. The state of Greece from Peri- 
cles to Alexander, fully described to us as it is in the works of the 
great contemporary historians, poets, orators, and philosophers, affords 
a political lesson perhaps more applicable to our own times, if taken 
all together than any other portion of history which can be named an- 
terior to the eighteenth century. Where Thucydides, in his reflections 
on the bloody dissensions at Corcyra, notices the decay and extinction 
of the simplicity of old times, he marks the great transition from an- 
cient history to modern, the transition from an age of feeling to one of 
reflection, from a period of ignorance and credulity to one of inquiry 
and scepticism. Now such a transition took place in part in the six- 
teenth century ; the period of the Reformation, when compared with 
the ages preceding it, was undoubtedly one of inquiry and reflection. 
But still it was an age of strong feeling and of intense belief; the hu- 
man mind cleared a space for itself vigorously within a certain circle ; 
but except in individual cases, and even those scarcely avowed, there 
were still acknowledged limits of authority, which inquiry had not yet 
ventured to question. The period of Roman civilization from the times 
of the Gracchi to those of the Antonines was in this respect far more 
completely modern ; and accordingly this is one of the periods of his- 
tory which wo should do well to study most carefully. But unfortu- 

* It is considered in our days that those who are posscmed of property in a cnantry 
ought to be citizens in it : the ancient maxim was, that those who were citizens 
ought to be possessed of property. The diflforcnco involved in these two difftfrent 
views is most remarkable. 

f It is curious to obssrve how read'Iy men mistake accidental distinctions for such 
as are really essential. A lively writer, the author of the ** Bubbles from t^e Bran- 
Dens of Nassau,** ridicules the study of what is called ancient history ; and as an 
instance of its usclessness, asks what lessons in the art of war can be derived from 
the insignificant contests which took place before the invention of gunpowder. Now 
it so happens that one who well knew what military lessons were instructive, the 
emperor Napoleon, has selected out of the whole range of history the campaigns of 
seven generals only, as important to be studied by an officer profe3<sionully in all their 
details ; and of the^e seven throe belong tn the times of Greece and Rome, namely^ 
Alexander, Hannibal, and CiBsar. See Napoleon's ** Melanges Historiques,*' tome 
II. p. 10. 



nately our infomicition respecting it is much scantier than m the case 
of the corresponding portion of Greek History; the writers, gene- 
rally epoaking, are greatly inferior; and in freedom of inquiry no 
greater range was or could be taken than that which the mind of 
Greece had reached already. And in point of political experience, we 
are even at this hour scarcely on a level with the statesmen of the age 
of Alexander. Mere lapse of years confers here no increase of know- 
ledge ; four thousand years have furnished the Asiatic with scarcely 
anything that deserves the name of political experience ; two thousand 
years since the fall of Carthage have furnished the African with abso- 
lutely nothing* Even in Europe and in America it would not bo easy 
now to collect such a treasure of experience as the constitutions of 153 
ccmmonweallhs along the various coasts of the Mediterranean oflered 
to Aristotle, There he might study the institutions of various racea 
derived fi'om variotis sources : every possible variety of external posi- 
tion, of national character, of positive law ; agricultural states and 
commercial, military powers and maritime, wealthy countries and poor 
ones, monarchies, aristocracies, and democracies, with every imaginable 
form and combination of each and all ; states overpeopled and under* 
peopled, old and new, and in every circumstance of advance, maturityi 
and decline. So rich was the experience which Aristotle enjoyed, but 
which to us is only attainable mediately and imperfectly through his 
other writings ; his own record of all these coramonweallhs, as well 
SB all other information concerning the greatest part of them, having 
unhappily perished* Nor was the moral experience of the age of 
Greek civilization less complete. By moral experience 1 mean an 
acquaintance with the whole compass of those questions which relate 
to the metaphysical analysis of man's nature and faculties, and to the 
practical object of his being. This was derived from the strong criti- 
cal and inquiring spirit of the Greek sophists and philosophers, and 
from the unbounded freedom which they enjoyed. In mere meta- 
physical research the schoolmen were indefatigable and bold, but in 
mora! questions there was an authority which restrained them ; among 
Christians the notions of duly and of virtue must be assumed as be- 
yond dispute. But not the wildest extravagance of atheistic wicked- 
ness in modern times can go further than the suphists of Greece went 
before them ; whatever audacity can dare and subtilty contrive to make 
the words "good" and "evil" change their meaning, has been already 
tried in iho days of Plato, and by his eloquence, and wisdom, and faith 
unshaken, has been put to shame. Thus it la that whUo ihe advance 
of civilization destroys much tha